February 16, 2011

Misleading Applications


Have you ever seen a strange security message pop up like an advertisement while you're surfing the web? Have you seen an unexpected balloon message appear from an unknown program on your system, telling you that you’re infected with a new threat? These are common tactics used by a type of program called "misleading applications" and other people refer to as “Rogue Software” or “Rogue Anti-Virus”. These programs typically sneak onto their victims’ systems while they surf the web, masquerade as a normal Microsoft Windows alert, or otherwise trick people into downloading them onto their computer. Once installed, misleading applications exaggerate or make false claims about the security status or performance of your system, then promise to solve these bogus problems if you pay them.

What are misleading applications?

Misleading applications intentionally misrepresent the security status of a computer. Misleading applications attempt to convince the user that he or she must remove potentially malware or security risks from the computer. The application will hold the user hostage by refusing to allow him or her to remove or fix the phantom problems until the “required” software is purchased and installed. Misleading applications often look convincing the programs may look like legitimate security programs and often have corresponding websites with user testimonials, lists of features, etc.

How they Attack?

Why are they dangerous?

The victims of misleading applications have paid for software that does not work, handed their personal information to scammers, and are left with a false sense of security that leads them to potentially greater risks from more aggressive threats. Even if a person catches on to the ruse and does not pay the misleading application vendor, the programs can be notoriously difficult to remove without the proper security software.
What To Do?
  1. Use a legitimate Antivirus to proactively protect from spyware and other security risks
  2. Configure the firewall in Antivirus software to block unsolicited requests for outbound communication
  3. Be especially cautious when clicking on pop-up advertisements especially ads promoting system security or performance tools that look like a standard Microsoft Windows alert
  4. Do not accept or open suspicious error dialogs from within the browser
  5. Purchase security and system performance software from reputable sources
  6. Keep software and security patches up to date

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