More than 30 million users have been infected by a new wave of fake anti-virus programs.
According to a report by PandaLabs, 30 million computers are infected by fake antivirus programs generating profits of more than £7m every month for spammers.
Panda Security has warned that the number of infections caused by fake anti-viruses is continuing to increase rapidly, achieved by creating around 7000 variants of a new type of adware and distributing it across the Internet.
These programs all operate generally by the program telling users that they are infected and pop-up windows, desktops and screensavers keep appearing, practically preventing the victim from using the computer. The aim is to scare the user into buying the fake anti-virus with, for example, cockroaches ‘eating' the desktop, or fake blue screens of death.
Although the style of threat and methods of infection are not new, PandaLabs claim that the fakes and corresponding web pages can look quite authentic, so the fact that they are bought by an unsuspecting users is unsurprising.
Dominic Hoskins, country manager at Panda Security UK, said: “The information we have at present suggests that some 3 per cent of these users have provided their personal details in the process of buying a product that claims to disinfect their computers. In fact, they never even receive the product.
“One of the worst things though, is that these programs are very difficult to disinfect. More advanced users might try to disinfect them manually, but this is no easy task. In general, it can take users up to three days to completely remove this threat from a computer. That's why we advise users whose antivirus has not detected the threat to install a new generation security solution designed especially to detect, disinfect and eliminate all traces of these malicious programs.”
Research shows that users are charged an average of €49.95 for the anti-virus that they do not receive. Hoskins claimed: “What we still don't know is whether the bank or credit card details are then used later by the cyber-crooks. If that were the case, the financial implications are even greater. This new technique demonstrates the ingenuity of cyber-crooks, who are constantly on the lookout for new ways to make money.”