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31 May 2010, 09:55

US authorities file charges against three scareware authors

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The FBI has filed charges against three men accused of raking in some $100 million from Internet users misled into buying scareware in more than 60 countries. Such software scares visitors into thinking their computers are infected with viruses or malware. These unfounded warnings are displayed when victims visit particular websites and they are then urged to purchase dubious anti-spyware and antivirus products; but the software does not usually have any actual function, and on installation merely reports successful disinfection of the PC – regardless of whether or not it was actually infected.

Such fraud was essentially outlawed at the end of 2008, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) got a US court to prevent two manufacturers of scareware from continuing to sell their products. The three men now facing charges did business from the US and the Ukraine via such companies as "Byte Hosting Internet Services" and "Innovative Marketing"; the applications had such names as "Malware Alarm", "Antivirus 2008" and "VirusRemover 2008".

In its written statement on the charges, the FBI says that scareware is one of the fastest-growing types of fraud on the internet. Google also recently drew attention to the issue when it found that some 15 percent of all malware is now scareware and that this percentage is still rising. Information on recognising scareware, protecting yourself from it and removing it can be found in the article "Thieves and charlatans" on The H.


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