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report finds that fake anti-virus is on the rise

report finds that fake anti-virus is on the rise

Malware posing as anti-virus software is spreading fast with tens of millions of computers infected each month, according to a report to be released on Wednesday from PandaLabs.

PandaLabs found 1,000 samples of fake antivirus software in the first quarter of 2008. In a year that number had grown to 111,000 and for the second quarter of 2009 it reached 374,000, Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs said in a recent interview.

"We've created a specific team to deal with this," he said, of the rogue anti-virus software that issues false warnings of infections in order to get people to pay for software they don't need. The programs also typically download a Trojan or other malware.

PandaLabs found that 3 percent to 5 percent of all the people who scanned their PCs with Panda anti-virus software were infected. Using that and worldwide computer stats from Forrester, PandaLabs estimates there could be as many as 35 million computers infected per month with the rogue anti-virus programs.

About 3 percent of the people who see the fake warnings fall for it, forking over $50 for an annual license or $80 for a lifetime license, according to Corrons.

Last September, a hacker was able to infiltrate rogue anti-virus maker Baka Software and discovered that in one period an affiliate made more than $80,000 in about a week, said Sean-Paul Correll, a PandaLabs threat researcher.

A Finjan report from March estimated that fake AV distributors can make more than $10,000 a day.

"The general consumer doesn't understand" the threat, Correll said. "No legitimate anti-virus vendor will start a scan automatically on your computer without your consent."

After all the hoopla about the Conficker threat researchers seemed almost relieved that the it turned out to distribute fake anti-virus software instead of something much worse.

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