Cybercriminal affiliates profit from 'Scareware' boom

Criminals are raking in massive profits through peddling bogus anti-virus software to unwitting Internet users, says security solutions provider Symantec.

Some cybercriminals are netting profits of more than £850,000 a year (€935,490 approx), Symantec reckons. The sophistication of the scam means that 93 per cent of Scareware is intentionally downloaded by Internet users convinced they are ‘doing the right’ thing, the report adds.

To date, Symantec has detected 250 separate counterfeit programs being sold for between £20 and £60, via nearly 200,000 websites worldwide, made up of dedicated ‘bent’ websites, and of banner adverts placed by scammers on legitimate websites.

Rogue Security Software is also promoted through a variety of additional channels, including both malicious and legitimate Websites such as blogs, forums, social networking sites, and adult sites. While legitimate Web sites may not be party to these scams, they can be compromised to advertise these rogue applications. Rogue security software sites may also appear at the top of search engine indexes if scam creators have seeded the results.

The sale and distribution of scareware to vendors uses an affiliate-based business model, similar to buying a well-known high street franchise business. Successful scammers are rewarded with cash payments and luxury prizes. Top affiliates can earn as much nearly £7,000 a month for duping users into installing security risks, including Rogue Security Software programs, the Symantec report says.

The Symantec Report on Rogue Security Software, developed by the company’s Security Technology and Response (STAR) organisation, is an in-depth analysis of Rogue Security Software programs.

Related story:
Cybercrime economy ‘is booming’

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