Thursday, October 04, 2012

FTC fines person over $100 million for selling fake anti-virus software

The FTC is getting aggressive – not just against telemarketers, endorsers, and collectors of minors’ information (other blogs).  Information Week reports that a woman has been assessed a $163 million civil judgment for her participation in running a “scareware” ring (in six countries) that duped consumers into purchasing fake antivirus software, sometimes apparently by locking their computers until they paid ransoms. 

About five years ago, it was common to find sites that, if linked from a Windows XP system (before I had Vista and W7) would bring up a Microsoft application box (like what is generated typically by .NET) telling you your machine was infected  and encourage you to navigate to the fake virus software link. In my experience, you could close the box and “nothing would happen”.  Eventually the machine that this happened on became unbootable, but that could have been because of hard drive aging. 

Comments advertising these products with links were often spammed onto blogs, until Blogger and Wordpress began filtering them out, and in the meantime I (as did many other bloggers) implemented mandatory comment moderation.  

The Information Link story by Matthew J. Schwartz (tweeted today by Webroot) is here

Schwartz links there to another one of his valuable articles, about Malnets.  My own major ISP, Verio, at least used not to offer java on shared hosting because of what it said were security problems with server-side processing (it offered “only” php as a language).  I had another small site on another ISP which offered "java starter", for about four years, from 2002-2006, when it suddenly tanked on support.  I’ll tell that story later, because it’s important.  

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