What Is a Fake Antivirus?

The most common infection currently is what is known as a fake antivirus infection. It is far more prevalent than any other infection out there for either Windows or Mac OS X. How can you tell the difference between this and other infections, or even this and your antivirus software?

Just What It Says on the Tin

A fake antivirus program is exactly what it sounds like. When this infection arrives on your system, it opens a window that claims to have found one or more dangerous security threats from a quick scan of your computer. These threats probably do not even exist on your computer, but this legitimate looking software is telling you, at no cost, just how many problems you probably don’t have before asking you for your credit card number to fix them. Regardless of how many times you close the window, it will keep popping up until you either pay the money they ask for or the fake antivirus is removed.

Show Me the Money

What has caused infection writers to move towards the fake antivirus infection? The answer is surprisingly simple; people hand over more money with the fake antivirus infections than any other class of malware. Compared to malware such as backdoor Trojans, downloaders and password stealers, fake antivirus software typically draws in between $80 and $120 per individual that pays for it.

My Mac Is Safe, Right? Right?

Wrong. We are seeing a large amount of new infections specifically targeting Apple computers. The Mac sector of malware is advancing faster than any other sector currently, and they are taking many of the things they learned by attacking Windows computers to these infections. The infection creators are using social media tactics to trick Apple computer users in the same fashion that they trick Windows users. Additionally, the search engine poisoning and rebranding of fake antivirus infections can affect both Mac and PC users.

Real vs. Fake

How do you tell the difference between a real antivirus and a fake antivirus? Simply put, know what antivirus you have installed on your computer. If something pops up that tells you it is from some company you’ve never heard of and you have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you know that it is not your antivirus.

Below, you’ll see some of the names the more common fake antivirus infections take on to try to trick you into giving them a credit card number.

  • Security Shield
  • Windows XP Recovery
  • Security Tool
  • Internet Defender
  • PC Security Guardian
  • BitDefender 2011
  • Antimalware Tool
  • Smart Internet Protection
  • AntiVirius AntiSpyware 2011
  • Malware Protection
  • XP Security 2012
  • Security Protection
  • XP Antivirus 2012
  • XP Anti-Spyware 2011
  • MacDefender
  • Mac Security

Any names that sound similar to those above are probably also suspicious.

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