In this day and age of online attacks, it becomes all the more important to protect one’s computer and other devices against the various threats. Criminals often try to bypass existing security solutions on the device in question, but they also distribute fake tools that allegedly prevent these attacks from happening. This trend is called “rogue security software,” and has been proven to be quite successful over the past few years.
This rogue anti-spyware program is a clone of the Total Virus Protection malware whose origin points to the Russian Federation. This program is rogue because it uses aggressive advertisement in order to display a fake list of viruses that are on the computer. The software offers you an option to purchase a license in order to remove those programs when in fact the “infections” are critical system files. Many more clones of this software exist, and 2017 variants have been spotted in the wild already. ANG Antivirus only targets Microsoft Windows users, the good news is that it is not too harmful because it’s main goal is to scare you into buying a software license. However, some variants have proven to be more harmful and may even steal sensitive user information.
Do not confuse this “tool” with the official Microsoft Security Essentials software, as they are nothing alike. Security Essentials 2010 is a malware strain first discovered in February of 2010. Its most powerful threat is how the malware prevents users from launching over 150 different programs, including most browsers and the Windows Command Prompt.
Unlike ANG Antivirus, Security Essentials uses 3rd party trojans that disguise themselves as flash updates that are required to view online videos. Once baited, the trojan will install a number of malware including Security Essentials 2010. Similar to the previous scareware, this one will also prompt you to purchase a license to supposedly remove quite a few threats, all of which are obviously fake. Thankfully, this malware has not been reported of stealing personal information or any more sensitive info and is no longer an active threat.
The funny part about this program is that it started as a legitimate anti-spam system that tried to automate the complaint process for email spam. The program would allow for a user to send a complaint about a spam email to the software. The program would review the complaint and proceed to contact the spam website’s ISP and potentially law enforcement to get the spammer to stop. However, some say that the program collected the list of emails in order to sell it to other spammers as a fresh list of targets.
This particular tool spammed its own email signatures in Yahoo and Gmail accounts and even left some system files behind after being removed from computers. It did not take long for this security tool to get shut down completely, which occurred in May of 2006. The company bailed after a thread popped up on a security forum accusing Blue Security of initiating a massive spam attack on it’s users, Blue Frog was gone one week later.
Macintosh users are also in need of proper security tools to keep their computer safe from harm. Mac Defender tried to fill this need, even though its developers had less honorable intentions. It was the first major malware threat to MacOS, its object was to trick users into paying the license fee, ranging between US$59 and US$79.
The malware spread itself via phishing campaigns which redirected users from legitimate websites to fake ones, that displayed fake alerts that the victim’s computer was infected. Its biggest “threat” was how the malware hijacked internet browsers, displaying pornographic advertisements. Moreover, the malware collected payment card information used for the license and would use that for further fraudulent purposes.
Do not be fooled into thinking this is a software tool that will keep a computer safe from spyware. Instead, the Zinaps software wants to perform fake computer scans and trick users into buying a license. This is a very common theme among rogue security software, as most developers hope to make a lot of money by tempting users into paying for their useless creations. What makes this malware so dangerous is that Zinaps would edit the Windows Registry, ensuring the software runs as soon as the computer boots up. It also makes removing the software much harder and almost almost always leaves traces after its gone.
This scareware rogue security program will not fix any issues related to Windows or otherwise. Once again, this malware wants to force users to buy a license, while not offering any help with real security issues whatsoever. In reality, Winfixer only destabilizes systems and reduces computer performance by quite a margin.
Furthermore, this software is impossibly easy to install. When a user visits a distributing website a dialog box will pop up, clicking any of the options (‘OK’ or ‘Cancel’ or by clicking the corner ‘X’) would trigger a pop-up window and WinFixer will download and install itself, regardless of the user’s wishes. Thankfully, this malware came to an end in December of 2008 after an intervention by the FTC.
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