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Microsoft goes after scareware peddlers

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 18 Sep 2009 3:24 User comments (14)

Microsoft goes after scareware peddlers Microsoft Corp. has filed a number of lawsuits against companies that use malicious advertisements in order to trick Windows users into installing useless "security" software. Scareware ads generally appear as system scan utilities, which report that they have found critical problems, and suggest the user simply "click to fix the problem". On click, the user is brought to a website selling fake anti-malware utilities.
In many cases, the software they receive is not only fake, but malicious in nature. The credit card numbers used to buy the software are then often used for fraudulent purposes later on or sold on to scammers, along with all the personal information offered up by the concerned victim. Recently, the New York Times website was tricked into running a scareware advertisement, which made headlines.

"These guys have decided to go full-court press on this, because it's obviously very profitable," said Paul Ferguson, a researcher with antivirus vendor Trend Micro. Microsoft's round of lawsuits target DirectAd Solutions, Soft Solutions, qiweroqw.com, ote2008.info and ITmeter, but they are "John Doe" lawsuits - that is Microsoft of the identities of the owners yet.

In addition to the "malvertising", the same groups behind the phony software are now also using software to manipulate Google search results. Recent targets concerned sear terms leading to information about U.S. Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (the "You Lie!" guy), the U.S. Open tennis tournament and recently-deceased actor Patrick Swayze.

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14 user comments

118.9.2009 9:50

Well b****r me M$ actually doing something useful for a change!

218.9.2009 11:12

It's about damn time too!

Recently I have had a spate of systems brought to me with this kind of 'scareware' onboard and the everyday clueless home users bringing them to me have no idea what it is or where it came from.

Luckily, none of the people I've helped out fell fully into the trap of buying fake software/giving credit card details. At least they had that much savvy to ask someone first.

318.9.2009 11:18

Yeah, those stupid pop up things are annoying as hell! The first time i got it, i was shocked! I was like, i keep my computer clean and lean all the time, no way it's infected! When i take a closer look on the warning screen (scanning and all, a busy genuine looking screen), the hell? That's not even my computer, lol. I read that NYT article as well (NYT itself got infected, apparently some 3rd party vendor approved the malicious ad). I'm also glad that MS is doing something about it. However, people are gullible, that's the way it is... I hate con-artists, but they're damn smart people, why can't they work on the good side :(

418.9.2009 12:40

Originally posted by pippincp:
Well b****r me M$ actually doing something useful for a change!

518.9.2009 15:11

I'd love to say that these aren't that big of a deal but they're very convincing. I've had numerous very intelligent friends fall for them. There are a few that are done so well.

618.9.2009 18:17

Go get 'em Microsoft. It is nice that Microsoft is playing a more active role in the security of their OS and even though these types of infections of fake software and malware are a good source of side job money for me I would like to see them stopped. After all it is the Malware that is available for Windows that allows the Apple and Linux Fanboys to make false claims that Windows is a unstable OS. Windows is not perfect but what OS or software is, but if they can play a role in keeping their Operating system secure and malware free it will make for an overall better user experience. The only bad thing is companies like McAfee and Symantec/Norton may threaten an anti-trust lawsuit or something because if Microsoft offers security software to protect the OS they take it as stealing their business. Well if they (McAfee, Norton & Others) did a better job then maybe Microsoft wouldn't have to protect it's OS. And I think Microsoft has the right to protect its OS and give its customers a good stable product. Are there any European Security Suites out there? I am just waiting for the European Commission to come crying about Microsoft Security Essentials which is free like they did about Opera vs IE.

718.9.2009 18:42

I, personally, am glad they're doing something about these annoying little f***ers. I've gotten about a half dozen of these things in the last few months, and while they haven't caused any real damage, it takes me several hours of down-time to clean up my computer afterwards and it has caused me to stop using several of my favorite sites that are crawling with the little buggers (surfthechannel, atdhe, etc.).
I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but GO MICROSOFT!?

818.9.2009 20:04
jony218
Inactive

maybe they need to fix internet explorer because it is easily compromised by these attacks. By now they should know these types of tactics won't work against pirates/scammers. Though MS should be applauded, it is a empty gesture unless there unsafe browser is fixed.

918.9.2009 20:16

Originally posted by jony218:
maybe they need to fix internet explorer because it is easily compromised by these attacks. By now they should know these types of tactics won't work against pirates/scammers. Though MS should be applauded, it is a empty gesture unless there unsafe browser is fixed.
Have you used IE8? It does a pretty decent job of stopping Malware and Phishing attacks. Independent testing showed it is the most secure of all the browsers. Besides no browser can stop a user from clicking on a suspicious pop up or embedded advertisement.

1019.9.2009 5:34

Originally posted by bobiroc:
The only bad thing is companies like McAfee and Symantec/Norton may threaten an anti-trust lawsuit or something because if Microsoft offers security software to protect the OS they take it as stealing their business.
If scareware = malicious software that claims to provide security, but does not

...then this describes McAfee and Norton perfectly. I should think that they would be blocked before anyone else, as more systems have been infected by these two than by any other virus in history (including the big ones like Melissa).

1119.9.2009 19:15

Anyone who uses a M$ computer that has no idea what it means to secure your computer deserve to get attacked by these scareware stuff.

1219.9.2009 20:21

I guess this means that Microsoft isn't completely evil :)

1319.9.2009 23:18

Destroy "The Power of Stop Sign" and get their annoying ads off TV.

1423.9.2009 22:05

Originally posted by Gnawnivek:
I hate con-artists, but they're damn smart people, why can't they work on the good side :(
lord helmet said it best. "...because good is dumb".

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