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UK PC Users Hit By Huge Fake Antivirus Attack 75

An anonymous reader writes "UK Internet users were on the receiving end of a large drive-by web attack at the end of February, which attempted to push fake antivirus at least 750,000 times on a single day alone, security company AVG has said. According to a company analysis, on Sunday 27 February, detection levels for the previously obscure Russian 'Blackhole' exploit kit suddenly spiked to 900,000 globally from a few tens of thousands that would be typical for such kits, before dropping back again. Unusually, almost 750,000 of these detections were for UK PCs, which offers a baseline for what must have been a sustained attack several times that size against mainstream web servers frequented by users in the country."
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UK PC Users Hit By Huge Fake Antivirus Attack

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  • I wonder, are the Mac users protected by their stupidity from fake anti-virus software. Were they thinking along the lines of a Certain XKCD comic [xkcd.com] but with Mac OS in place of liniux.
    • Just offer them a preview of the next iPhone or whatever, the stupid ones will run that.

    • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:13AM (#35541272)

      They largely are. These offers of protection tend to download .EXE's since these fake antivirus companies don't waste time on anything that's non-Windows. In addition, a large majority of Mac users don't bother with Antivirus so they simply ignore these. Last but not least, they tend to be less gullible than Windows users.

      http://www.daniweb.com/hardware-and-software/networking/news/218521 [daniweb.com]

      http://techcrunch.com/2009/12/10/microsoft-users-gullible-advertising/ [techcrunch.com]

      Last but not least, these types of attacks tend to be fear driven and Windows users simply have more to fear from Viruses than Mac users at the moment. After years of sustained attacks, they are simply much to jumpy and easily frightened to pass up.

      • I think a lot of people would disagree that Mac users are "less gullible" than windows users. Considering Apple is lauded for being "such a good marketing company that can get people to pay significantly more for a product that the competition charges a bit less and also provides more features" would actually scream to me that "apple buyers are more gullible".

        Not trying to say my "fact" is more truthy than yours but hopefully you see the problem with that statement now that is supported by bad statistics fr

        • The attitude I usually see from Mac owners, is more "Haha, with my powerful OSX I am invulnerable to all know Viruses!". An attitude which will in time create it's own problems, I suspect.
  • Omission (Score:3, Funny)

    by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @05:57AM (#35540848) Journal
    No mention of the Malware attacks named "McAfee" and "Symantec."
  • by grahamlord86 ( 1603545 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:53AM (#35541206)

    I've spent the past month clearing up the fall out of this explosion of Fake AV... It's the most common issue I see on computer in my repair shop these days, and has been for a few years now, but this confirms why it's been so hectic the past couple of weeks!

    I am amused that AVG are going on about it when, like the rest of the mainstream antivirus products, AVG itself cannot prevent or remove these Fake AVs- by the time the user brings their computer to me, AVG, or any other antivirus is broken and crying in the corner of C:\Program Files, or just gone completely.

  • by eyenot ( 102141 ) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:02AM (#35541486) Homepage

    Had a typical midwesterner conversation this morning in college. It wasn't over exactly this antivirus fakeout, but it led up to the flaws behind the antivirus system, namely the symbiotic relationship between virus/antivirus. But the reason the antivirus companies make so much money, and the reason why fake virus attacks work, and so on, is because people are educated from the wrong directions.

    This morning, after somebody realised I was a computer programmer they asked if I could hack into computer systems. Once we got past my incredulous phase where I can't believe somebody would ask something like that out in the open in front of other people, it came down to, "no, I can't, or if I can I don't want to".

    Do you walk up to people and say "could you jack a car?" "Could you murder somebody?" Just right out in the open, not even meeting them? Try it out like this: do you tell them, "yeah, oh yeah!" You know how much federal time that is, right out the gate? By the time you affirm something like that, it's not the other person's liable time, either, it's yours. Even if it's also illegal to ask in the first place, seeking to conspire over these things and soliciting such skill through such a line of questioning.

    But if it's computer hacking, well everybody feels that's a great thing. Everybody wants to know a hacker, see a hack going on. This is why it's very lucrative to make games where a person believes they are hacking a computer system, but never to make it very complex: they wouldn't know a hack if they were one, but they love the idea of trumping all this new-fangled computer nonsense that puts knots in their brains and makes them feel inferior. Oh, if only they could hack the machine and get it out of the damn way and just get down to brass tacks and business.

    So I had to weather wave after wave of this guy begging for the reality of the grey-hat market. That maybe it's okay to commit computer crimes because if you get caught, you won't go to jail, the NSA will show up with the men in black and hire you into the upper, upper, uppity echelon of secret dream, top-level, wish fulfillment and instant gratification the real world won't let you have.

    He promoted himself as some kind of brilliant business person, because he's spending money to go to college for business. He didn't even know to bring cash with him to do the printing he needed for this uppity business class trip of his, and wasn't independent minded enough to put it together on his own. I explained to him how to put the scanner and the printer together through the computer and pay for it off his printing account instead. I didn't even get a thanks, just a frankly indifferent, self-scolded, urban-culture "yeah that'll work that's cool".

    So, when he got on me about where's all the grey hat money money, I told him, it's not supposed to be like that. The systems should be installed properly and used properly the first time. You don't go around giving your housekey away to strangers all in order to sustain the police records filing level industry, do you? You keep your shit secure because you want it. You do that because that's what your instincts want, is security. That's exactly what an employer is thinking, too. They aren't saying, hey, I want holes in my security to hire a grey-hat, so I'm going to go buy a security system, have it installed properly, and then have a mad hatter at the front desk surfing the web from an admin level unpatched windows desktop and taking bathroom breaks with the system password post-it noted over the keyboard numerical pad. That way I can hire a cool-sounded thing, like, the rugged individualist down on his luck who got caught stealing my wife's credit card number and now has been hand-picked by the NSA to come to me to charge me twice for my security: once to point out how I screwed it up and again to install the whole new system.

    When I put it to him like that, he said, well, ha-ha, it's obvious you don't know biz-niss. I explained as well as I could that, in fact, he doesn't know bu

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      WTF? Could you include a "TL;DR" for everybody next time you decide to write a book?

    • Had a typical midwesterner conversation this morning in college.

      But it was another conversation with another one of those potential Jerry Springer guests or what the rest of America refers to as "midwesterners"...

      I was born, raised, and currently live in Missouri. Not only that but I drive, get this, a 4 wheel drive truck and own a rifle. Somehow, in spite of all that, I was able to read and comprehend your entire rambling post. I must truly be a diamond in the rough out here in the vast wasteland of drooling idiots that exists between Los Angeles and New York City.


  • Hey, the headline forgot to include, "Mac Users Unaffected" :)
  • I can almost answer my own question. I've run into too many people who don't WANT to know anything about their computers. Sort of like that old Barbie "Girls aren't good at math" thing, except it's "I'm not a computer person so I'm not GOOD at computers" and they're doing it to themselves. My gut does tell me that this is worse with older people, but not 100%.
    • This is a complex world, one cannot know about everything. Why would users be interested in the inner workings of anti-virus engines? Even I cannot grasp why *I* am interested in all this while the weather is just beautiful outside. How many people know about the inner workings of their car?

      Sorry, but it is the job of the OS and applications to make sure that their users are safe. A good setup certainly should not require any anti-virus applications. Virus scanners are just a patch up job that is required w

    • At the end of the day, a computer to most people is intended to be a tool for productivity. The device itself is secondary to what I actually want to accomplish.

      They don't want (or care) to be "good at computers", they'd just prefer the computer did what they wanted with the least hassle. They just want to print something, look up a recipe, or, apparently, play Farmville.

      Similarly, I fly on business ... I have no interest in being "good at planes", I just want the damned thing to work, and get me there.

    • I send this link [youtube.com] to anyone whose computer has been infected that I have been tasked to clean up.
      It is a fool me once, shame on me kind of situation. (You would have to be pretty ignorant to fall victim multiple times.)
    • Hi – I'm the education, right here. I worked as a tech in a mom-and-pop service shop for a bit over two years. People would come in with spyware-infested machines, and rogue antimalware products were often involved. They'd ask why it happened, and we'd explain. And they'd have questions, and we'd explain. And they'd act like they understood, and thank us, pay their bill, and head on their way.

      Several times, they came back in again with more of the same problems a few months down the road.

      People don't

  • AVG is past tense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Saturday March 19, 2011 @01:10PM (#35542698)

    I don't give credence to anything AVG says, since I caught its version 9.0 product red-handed denying me the ability to format any of my disk drives so long as it was installed. It maintained continually open files/folders on every drive, such that Windows would refuse to allow formatting any of them, and not just the boot drive. I uninstalled it and never looked back. The day an AV product denies me the ability to use a fundamental feature of the operating system is the day that product gets the boot.

  • by JimboFBX ( 1097277 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @02:07AM (#35548064)

    This happened to my sister, who isn't really a dumb person. After talking with her I've come to establish the profile of an individual that would fall for these kinds of attack:

    1. They are very trusting of something when they do trust it. This behavior is often associated with people who do well at school and follow their parents advice/beliefs
    2. They don't use their computer much anymore, mainly relying on their phone instead
    3. They own a computer that came pre-installed with an antivirus brand they don't recognize, so all they know about is that they wouldn't recognize it if it gave them a pop-up
    4. Their anti-virus is expired and they falsely believe an expired anti-virus would detect viruses but refuse to to clean them
    5. They get this fake virus full screen banner when they visit a trusted website. In my sister's case it was hotmail.com. This leads me to suspect it could had been either a rogue banner or she has a virus on her machine prior to the incident
    6. Money is not an issue for them so they would rather throw money (and their credit card information) at an immediate problem ("YOUR COMPUTER HAS A VIRUS") than stop and think about the situation they aren't familiar with and try to deduce what is really happening
    7. They don't read the newspaper in detail much anymore so they miss the millions of columns that have already warned about this scam

    Fortunately she called me within minutes of installing the software and realized it all started to be very suspicious. We then got a new credit card number, disputed the charges, and used system restore (which is apparently all that is needed to get rid of this particular fake anti-virus).

    • Normally you get rogue banners and as JimboFBX has said "5. They get this fake virus full screen banner when they visit a trusted website. In my sister's case it was hotmail.com. This leads me to suspect it could had been either a rogue banner or she has a virus on her machine prior to the incident".

      This happened to a friend yesterday and I went around to his place to fix his PC. Thankfully it was not a huge issue as I made him buy Malwarebytes a few months ago which is set up to monitor in real time and ha

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger