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Cyber Criminals Using SEO Technique to Sell Scareware

According to Finjan, an online security company, cyber criminals exploiting the Search Engine Optimization technology are redirecting Internet surfers to websites selling 'scareware,' a term used for fake antivirus programs.

The security company states that cyber criminals first create web pages with well-known keywords so that the pages get a high ranking among search engine results. They then drive surfers who search with those keywords to the website that carries the malicious links pointing to the bogus antivirus.

But when a victim tries to open these links, a series of pop-up alerts appear saying that his computer has been infected. Subsequently, a message appears that says users need to download the antivirus software to clean the computer of the so-called infection. Finjan discovered that in a relatively short span of 16 days, over 1.8 Million computer users were directed to the websites touting the 'scareware.' Among them, 7-12% users downloaded the bogus application while 1.79% made a payment of $50 to acquire it.

Besides this, Finjan believes that over 1 Million US denizens and a number of others worldwide have been ensnared into the 'scareware' fraud.

The company also disclosed that for past few days, cyber miscreants have been creating web pages embedded with popular keywords like 'Obama' and terms surrounding current events. Some attempted to capitalize on the fatal end of Natasha Richardson, the famous actress, with the use of phrases culled from the stories published in news.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak CTO of Finjan, says that cyber crooks constantly seek ways that are more effective in distributing their rouge software, as reported by securitypronews on March 23, 2009. Ben-Itzhak continued to say that since cyber crooks earn revenue by selling fake software and trading stolen information, they always seek to find more innovative techniques. Currently, they are effectively using SEO to distribute their rogueware more widely, he added.

Ben-Itzhak advised computer users to be careful of pop-ups that claim to detect an infection.

Meanwhile, Finjan's discoveries turn out to be more believable with APWG's reports that 9,287 fake anti-malware products were circulated during December 2008, accounting for an increase of 225% over January 2008.

Related article: Cyber Child abuser Sentenced To Imprisonment

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