Google: Fake antivirus is 15 percent of all malware – Is this NEWS?

image When I get into one of my “what the hell is going on” moods, I can’t help but consider mainstream media, and what a pathetic job it does when it comes to informing Internet users of critical consumer safety issues.

Part of my distain for so called News organizations, is based on mainstream media’s habit of consistently “coming late to the party”, when dealing with a technology issue that demands an immediate response.

Take Google’s recently released (April 28, 2010), 13 month study of Fake antivirus software, for example. Immediately upon release of this study, this “news” was everywhere on the NEWS.

So, what’s wrong with this “news” story? Well, how about this – This is NOT news! Certainly not “late breaking news”. Simply because this study is not news of course, doesn’t mean that it can’t be MADE news.

Here’s a clue for these News organizations – every day, for years now, typical Internet users’ have been exposed to this type of sophisticated malware and penetration attempts, just by surfing the Web. Oh, by the way, when you’re giving advice to consumers as to how they should deal with these issues – get the underlying technology issues right. That’s a minimum expectation!

The Google report is only marginally informative, contains limited new Internet security information of any value, and is, on the face of it, not news to anyone who has been even marginally aware of security conditions on the Internet during the past two years. Despite this, I found that every News channel that I generally watch, had a story in which the Google study was quoted.

Selected outtakes from the Google study:

A rise in fake antivirus offerings on Web sites around the globe shows that scammers are increasingly turning to social engineering to get malware on computers rather than exploiting holes in software.

Once it is installed on the user system, it’s difficult to uninstall, you can’t run Windows updates anymore or install other antivirus products.

Fake antivirus is easy money for scammers.

On this site, (like many others), we have been reporting on Fake AVs (rogue security software) since the first day essentially – more than 100 articles to date.

Additionally, guest writers on this site have addressed the fake AV issue. Guest writers such as Sergei Shevchenko, Senior Malware Analyst at PC Tools, who, in his guest article, “Be Prepared for 2010’s Malware – PC Tools Malware Trends in 2010”, offered readers a peek into the 2010 malware landscape and made the following observations respecting Fake antivirus applications – long before Google’s report.

Cybercriminals operate in the same way as legitimate organizations – they’re looking for the best return on their investment. It’s therefore inevitable that as we move in to 2010 there will continue to be increased interest in producing malware that brings swift and healthy dividends, with a focus on new and diversified rogue security solutions and in continuing to employ social engineering techniques.

When the initial “accumulation” phase of the rogue security software businesses comes to completion, we might expect cybercriminals to start using their budgets for establishing call centers, support lines, virtual offices, registering off-shore companies, and even launching advertising campaigns.

Users who keep an eye on the range of security software solutions on the market will be aware that many vendors already provide at least one of these services. The difficulty lies with making an informed choice on which offers the best protection – and that’s where the independent anti-malware testing labs come to the fore.

I’ll stop ranting now.

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Filed under Bill's Rants, cybercrime, Google, Interconnectivity, Internet Security Alerts, Rogue Software

17 responses to “Google: Fake antivirus is 15 percent of all malware – Is this NEWS?

  1. greg

    Is this news? Unfortunately for some people– yes
    I’ve known people who would say to me (Re Malware etv. ) But I have antivirus. This is why blogs like this are needed . Keep up the good work.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Greg.

      Too right!

      Some users have the idea that an AV protects against everything up to, and including, a nuclear attack. It’s sad really.


  2. I agree and share your disdain for the mainstream media. The only good thing is this, maybe a few people who are quite clueless when it comes to technology will think twice before paying $49 for a fake malware program.
    Frankly the figure seems low to me, but I guess when you count up all the botnets out there I guess 15% still amounts to a huge amount.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mark,

      I take issue with the 15% number as well. Seems very low to me.

      I’m hopeful that “maybe a few people who are quite clueless when it comes to technology will think twice before paying $49 for a fake malware program”, as you say. I wouldn’t bet the mortgage money on it though.


  3. Dave

    I was amazed the other morning, had Headline News on before work and they actually had a story about fake antivirus. Not surprisingly it was pretty pitiful, it was done by some financial guy that had this goofy smile on throughout the story and seemed to consider it more amusing than a threat to the general surfing public.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Dave,

      I saw that – Clarke Howard, Headline News’ resident goofball.

      His poor handling of the story, incorrect analysis of the “news” and his sheer goofiness, is one of the reasons I did this article.

      Gotta admit, i love that Robin Meade on Headline News though. Looking at her first thing in the morning makes me think all sorts of unusual thoughts. lol


  4. Dave

    Yeah, Robin goes well with the morning coffee 🙂

  5. Liam O' Moulain


    I definitely noticed this on the News and most of what I heard was not exactly right. I just put it down to “that’s TV for ya”.

    If I want the “real McCoy”, I know I’ll get it here on your site.


    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Liam,

      Thanks for that. That makes you one smart fella. lol

      As always, thanks for visiting.


  6. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    It’s not just fake Av’s the media fall down on. When I was researching the Zeus trojan recently, the statistics that kept coming through was that only 23% of Av’s can catch it. Yet, all media stories I looked at (with a resident goofball sprouting his wisdom) kept saying, just update your AV and you will be ok. No wonder people keep getting infected, because they get given the wrong, or not all the information.


    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mal,

      That’s it in a nutshell – ” they get given the wrong, or not all the information.” Damn, it took me 624 words to say the same thing. lol

      I’ve been associated with both TV, and print journalists, much of my adult life, and I can tell you, not many of them were hired for their innate ability to grasp complex issues. These people are representative of the same folks that keep telling us, we have raised, or are raising, a “tech savvy” generation. Duh!



  7. Excellent post Bill. Ironically, the last post I made to my site dealt with the very same subject. Scareware is becoming increasingly pervasive.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Steve,

      Thank you. I trust all is well in the Lone Star state.

      I took a look at your scareware article – most impressive! I’ve plugged it in to tomorrow’s Net News column.

      As with all your articles, it deserves wider distribution.

      Good to hear from you.



  8. kingpin

    Hi Bill,
    Honestly people in media will just report anything they want to without checking the real facts and the whole truth,who knows some scammer might just use this news for more profit and infections.Common sense and knowledge can only save people from this preposterous articles.
    I would say use up-to-date virtulization solutions and updated AV’s and be careful what you do on the Internet.Good thing MBAM Pro is covering my back against these roguewares and scarewares[read XP AV].

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Kingpin,

      This year, I’ve been using virtualization much more than I have in the past. It’s a very effective way to reduce the chances of malware infection. Common sense though, still remains the most effective antmalware application.


  9. Dave

    But sadly, the most effective antimalware application (common sense) seems to be the one many are missing.

    • Bill Mullins

      Good morning Dave,

      Common sense – what dat? Just finished reading an article – Do pediatricians subscribe to old wives’ tales? The result – “More than three-quarters of the pediatricians surveyed mistakenly endorsed one or more dangerous parenting myths as being true. And 13 per cent got three or more wrong.”

      If we can’t rely on doctors to use common sense……