FTC goes after scareware scammers

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Dec 11, 2008

Courts crack down on pushers of rogue anti-malware.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a successful move to persuade a US district court to shut down a major player in the rogue anti-spyware business. The company behind the notorious WinFixer and XP Antivirus scams has been issued with a temporary restraining order barring it from claiming to have performed any kind of scanning of its victims' systems, the main vector of the company's duplicitous scams.

The defendants in the case are the companies Innovative Marketing, registered in Belize but apparently based in Kiev, Ukraine, and ByteHosting Internet Services, run out of Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as several individuals running or profiting from the companies, both of which operated under a range of other names. The US District Court for the District of Maryland approved the FTC's request to call a halt to the companies' activities and freeze the assets of those behind the scams.

According to a press release issued by the FTC, over 1 million computer users had been taken in by various scams run by Innovative Marketing, which included a wide range of rogue anti-malware products and others claiming to detect child pornography and other unwanted content on victims' systems. Reaching victims via online advertising, the scams generally tried to get their suspect software installed using scare tactics and offers of free security checks, and would then go on to persuade victims to pay for full versions with overblown and often entirely fictitious warnings of malware infections. A simple summary of a typical attack pattern is on the McAfee blog here, and a nice chart of another attack system at the Panda blog here.

Full details of the FTC action is in a press release here and in further documentation available here. Comment on the events is on Sunbelt's committed anti-rogue-software blog here and here.

Posted on 11 December 2008 by Virus Bulletin

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