Thursday, September 18, 2008

WOT offers a new video on fake anti-virus software

“Web of Trust” has issued a newer version of its video regarding fake anti-virus software. The video is called “An Epidemic: Fake Anti-Malware Products” and the link for direct viewing (5 minutes) is here.

This video starts with a fictitious search, and clicking on a link that, instead of bringing up an html or asp type web page, starts a windows-like application to scan your system, and then goads you into giving your credit card number to purchase the product. The name of the product is likely to change every few days to make it impossible for credit card companies to help you with refunds.

The links wind up in search engines very quickly, before they can be evaluated by WOT or McCafee. Many of them may have overseas domain names, but not necessarily. Many may give legitimate sounding excerpts of text that are unrelated to the virus search. (Unauthorized celebrity sites may be prone to such abuse, which would give celebrities legal resource on the grounds of trademark infringement or “right of publicity” actions if they chose.)

Web of Trust also has a Press Release dated Sept. 17 on this problem, here. Web of Trust, like McAfee, offers a pop-up report on search engines, which may something like “Site Has Been Infected” for fake anti-virus sites. The main practical problem is finding the abusing site in time.

Because search engines now very quickly index new sites, it is difficult for them to address this problem. Search engine companies will remove such links when requested, following their own procedures.

It is important to note that the phrase “web of trust” has also been used in the media to described a “darknet”, a limited P2P (peer-to-peer) network of anonymous users seeking to escape attention from authorities. John Markoff has a story in the New York Times back on Aug. 1, 2005, “New File Sharing Techniques Are Likely to Test Court Decision,” here. The Court case here was MGM v Grokster, concerning business models based on copyright infringement. The article discusses the efforts of a Scottish programmer named Ian Clarke.

This blog had discussed an earlier video by WOT on Aug. 19 2008.

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