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Fake/Rogue Antivirus, Security, and Utility Software

Rogue security software has quickly evolved into a major menace. On one occasion, Tritech had two business clients in one day that picked up XP Antivirus 2008 and one of which also managed to get XP SecurityCenter and SmitFraud, all at once. These nasties continue to plague our customers today with names like "Win 7 Security Center" and "Security Tool" and "System Defragmenter." (A larger list is on the FakeRean trojan page.)

Unless you know for a fact that a security product is a legitimate product from a company that operates on the up-and-up, such as avast! antivirus, you MUST NOT DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL IT. There are literally hundreds of fake security solutions out there today, and they have been growing almost exponentially. Before Security Tool and XP Antivirus 2008, it was WinAntiVirus 2006 and 2007, and other crummy little beasts like SpySheriff. Where previously we would see fake or low-quality "registry cleaners" and "cookie washers" finding their way onto peoples' computers under the guise of "boosting performance" and "fixing errors in the system configuration," now we see these stupid fake security programs cropping up practically everywhere a Windows PC exists, and it's maddening to have as many clients as Tritech does and still see a significant percentage of them end up with "hostage software" on their machines, despite not using Internet Explorer and generally staying infection-free for months or even years. Despite our best efforts to educate our clientele (because user education is the only true way to improve computer security, no software can its place), we are still seeing these horrid little nuisances to this day.

The psychology of how these things work is very interesting. Basically, computers have taken an ever-increasing prevalence in our lives since the Internet became accessible to home users en masse in the mid-90's. Computer security threats have become mainstream news items, and you can't open one single PC magazine without seeing a plethora of ads for poor-quality (but nevertheless legitimate and somewhat effective) security software plastered all over the place. With the amazing growth in identity theft awareness, the public's perception of "what's out there" must be no less than a step away from complete paranoia!

That's where the fake security software comes in. Playing on the conditioning of the common user to seek solutions in SOFTWARE to all of these immense and overwhelming threats, these products end up on computers after such trivial searches on major search engines as "free anti virus" or "free spyware cleaner" or "free trojan remover." Combining our fear of identity theft, hackers, scammers, spammers, fraudsters, and lotteries in Zimbabwe with the post-2000 "I want it all and I want it now" instant gratification mentality, these products are a perfect storm to extort our hard-earned dollars through promises of "threat removal."

You see, when you install one of these vile programs on your PC (almost always by accident or by trickery), you're greeted with warnings about the status of your computer. We've seen pop-up balloons by the clock with messages that "Windows has detected spyware infection! You should download the latest antispyware updates to fix them. Click here to install antispyware!" (that's not a precise quote, but it gets the point across) when in fact there is no infection other than the software itself. The FakeRean series likes to pop up a "scanning window" that shows "viruses" it "found" along with an explanation of why they're dangerous, along with a fake "threat level" as well. Tritech called B.S. on the whole thing 100% when it listed a virus about which it stated "this virus corrupts your system BIOS." If the machine had a virus that "corrupted" the BIOS code, the machine wouldn't boot! If they meant the "CMOS RAM" instead (a misnomer but still the generally accepted term for where the BIOS stores its settings), the computer might complain a lot on boot, but otherwise would automatically reconfigure itself to sane defaults and boot right on up anyway.

The fake security programs ultimately will attempt to convince you that you have some kind of threat to your security on your computer that is quite serious, and then attempt to get you to pay up for the software or the repairs. It's such a simple modus operandi, but insanely clever. Please don't be fooled by promises of increased security. If you've already been infected with this garbage and you're in our service areas in North Carolina, you can check out our spyware and virus advice page or contact us to get it wiped out. Otherwise, find a reputable independent technician or local computer service shop in your area to take care of it. Avoid major chains such as Geek Squad like the plague, because it's hard to know what the skill level of the technician will be and their prices are usually quite ludicrous.