McAfee Warns Consumers of “Scareware,” Which Claims One Million Victims a Day; Scareware Could Cause Consumers the Most Damage in 2010
SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 09, 2010 - McAfee, Inc. (NYSE:MFE) today warned consumers that “scareware,” or fake antivirus software, may be the most costly online scam in 2010, causing significant monetary loss and damage to users’ computers. Scareware is the first scam outlined in McAfee’s new Consumer Threat Alert program that warns consumers about the latest and most dangerous online threats with inside intelligence from McAfee Labs. Consumers can sign up to receive the free e-mail alerts at www.mcafee.com/consumer-threats-signup.
“Even the savviest of computer users fall victim to online threats because cybercriminals have become so sophisticated,” said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “The Consumer Threat Alerts are a warning sound to keep consumers from falling victim to online dangers. We’re on the front lines watching and protecting against threats, and we pass that knowledge onto consumers.”
Fake Antivirus Scams Cost Consumers Millions of Dollars Each Year
Scareware is one of the most prevalent, dangerous and sophisticated online scams, victimizing an estimated one million people around the world every day. McAfee Labs reports that cybercriminals make profits upwards of $300 million worldwide from scamming consumers with scareware.
Fake antivirus software pops onto a users’ screen and alerts the user that his or her computer may be vulnerable. To disguise the scam, cybercriminals create legitimate looking logos of fake security companies.
The pop-up prompts the user to scan the computer for vulnerabilities, which he or she does not realize is fake, or even purchase “security software” which is actually malware in disguise. Cybercriminals get unsuspecting victims to input their credit card information, granting criminals’ access to the user’s computer and bank details. Criminals have targeted every region of the world with fake antivirus software.
“It’s an incredibly lucrative business for cybercriminals,” said Francois Paget from McAfee Labs, a security research expert who has studied fake antivirus companies around the globe. “In fact, one company known as ‘Innovative Marketing’ made an estimated $180 million through these scams in one year, and more than four million consumers purchased their fake security software thinking it was real.”
McAfee reports a 660% rise in scareware over the past two years, and a 400% increase in reported incidents in the last 12 months.
“It strikes fear – I saw a pop-up telling me that I had viruses on my computer and all I could think about was everything I had to lose,” said Stevie Wilson, a victim of scareware who lives in Los Angeles and shares her story in this video. “It looked just like a legitimate security program, so I handed over my credit card information to make sure I was protected. But, countless dollars and lost time later, I realized that I’d handed my credit card directly to criminals.”
New “Consumer Threat Alerts” Warn Consumers about Most Dangerous Threats
The McAfee Consumer Threat Alerts program helps consumers stay ahead of evolving and sophisticated threats. Subscribers can expect to receive periodic e-mail alerts about how to recognize the latest online dangers and tips on how to stay safe. The threat information is presented in easy to understand language with examples, and includes tips on how to avoid threats as well as information for users who suspect they might have become a victim.
In addition to the e-mail notification, all updates will be posted on the Consumer Threat Alerts blog (www.mcafee.com/consumer-threats-blog) and consumers can also follow McAfee on Twitter (http://twitter.com/McAfee) or visit the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mcafee) for updates, videos and tips.
“We’re giving consumers the ‘street smarts’ they need to live their online lives safely,” said Green. “With education and the right technology, we can all play a part in the fight against cybercrime.”
About McAfee, Inc.
McAfee, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, is the world's largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee is committed to relentlessly tackling the world's toughest security challenges. The company delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems and networks around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the Web more securely. Backed by an award-winning research team, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security. http://www.mcafee.com
McAfee and the McAfee logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of McAfee, Inc., or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. The product plans, specifications and descriptions herein are provided for information only and subject to change without notice, and are provided without warranty of any kind, express or implied © 2008 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved.
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