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Airport Internet Terminals Haunted by Scareware

Using Wi-Fi network for accessing internet invites risk. Airport terminals may seem more secure to update Facebook status and check e-mails, but Symantec reports that the terminals may not be secure at all.

Nick Johnston, Senior Software Engineer, Symantec Hosted Services, disclosed that at one of the Internet terminals at a large airport in England, he noticed a unique "Defense Center Installer" dialog box which turned out to be fake antivirus application called 'scareware,' as per the CNET news dated on 25th August 2010.

According to the security experts, scareware is a malware which claims the computer has a virus infection and tries to compel the user to purchase the complete version of the software to clean the fake infection. It is very general for this kind of malware to uninstall or disable the genuine antivirus software, causing the Windows Security Center to warn that no antivirus software installed. Since this kind of software is not a virus, it is very hard for the legitimate antivirus to detect it and remove it.

The researcher further said in his blog published by Symantec on August 25, 2010 that while "Defense Center Installer" scareware would corrupt the Internet terminal and was an indicator that these terminals were not properly protected and weaker to a full range of malware.

The Symantec researcher also revealed that a keylogger on one of the terminals could steal a person's password and username of his webmail, bank account, airline account, social media account, or other private account accessed on the terminal. As compared to "scareware" (that makes its presence felt), it is hard to identify an active keylogger on the system.

Therefore, users are advised to work with caution while using internet in public places. In fact, users should avoid any action which demands login to personal or corporate accounts. The best way is to only enter the important and private information like social security number, bank account and others on computers and networks that the user is aware of and trusts.

The security firm further reveals that even a very nominal time spends on checking mails may bring trouble. A moment's involvement will require hours and days to get painful recovery.

Related article: Airport Website Used To Attack NAB Customers

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