Warning over anti-virus cold calls to UK internet users
Published: 15th Nov 2010 00:44:07
Internet users are being warned about cold callers who offer to fix viruses but then install software to steal personal information.
Campaign group Get Safe Online said a quarter of people it had questioned had received such calls, many suspected to have been from organised crime gangs.
Some gangs, employing up to 400 people, are known to set up their own call centres to target people en masse.
Internet users are also urged to be wary of pop-ups offering virus checks.
Earlier this year, search engine giant Google warned it had discovered massive amounts of malicious fake anti-virus software.
The UK warning on such software comes from national campaign group Get Safe Online, which is backed by the government, police forces and major businesses with a stake in internet security.
It says it has charted a growth in two related scams designed to trick people into installing fake anti-virus software as a means of harvesting personal information such as credit card details.
Rather than exploiting our ignorance... they are actively using our knowledge and fear of online threats to their advantage”
Some of the scams involve pop-up windows claiming that the computer has been infected.
These "scareware" approaches encourage users to click through to a site hosting malicious or useless software that acts as a front for gathering personal information. Most of the time, the software appears almost identical to professional anti-virus products.
In other cases, gangs have set up call centres in Eastern Europe or Asia and cold-call UK phone numbers attempting to find people to con.
In both cases, information gathered from the identity thefts can be used by gangs or sold on to other criminals through online market places.
Investigators from the UK's Serious and Organised Crime Agency's e-crime unit attempt to track scams back to the source gangs who have set them up.
Sharon Lemon, deputy director of Soca, said: "In recent cases, we have seen gangs employing 300 to 400 people to run their operations and using call centre-scale set ups to target victims en masse.
"They can also be paying out as much as $150,000 (£92,000) a month to individual webmasters who are unwittingly advertising their fake software - this level of investment from criminals indicates that the returns are much heftier than this."
Tony Neate, head of Get Safe Online, said that almost half of internet users surveyed for the organisation's annual report had been confronted with pop-up windows warning of viruses.
"Web users should ignore 'cold calls' from companies offering free virus checks, and be very cautious of any on-screen pop ups," he said.
"Most reputable IT providers do not approach customers in this way without prior notice or a direct request."
Dr Emily Finch, a criminologist at the University of Surrey, said: "The general public is more internet security-aware than it was five years ago. Malicious anti-virus scams are an indication that criminals are now tapping into this.
"Rather than exploiting our ignorance - the basic premise of common scams such as phishing - they are actively using our knowledge and fear of online threats to their advantage."
Get Safe Online's annual report says that its research suggests a third of UK internet users are still victims of viruses, despite steady improvements in security. More than a fifth said they had suffered identify fraud.
ICM interviewed 1,520 computer-using adults during October for the survey.
At 08:03:53 in SportGreat Britain's wheelchair curlers suffered a dreadful morning at the Ice Cube Curling Centre with a heavy 13-4 defeat to Finland.
At 08:02:15 in SportInjured Scotland lock Al Kellock hopes his team-mates can beat Wales to end their Six Nations campaign on a positive note.
At 08:00:55 in HeadlinesA man travelling on a stolen passport on a missing Malaysian jet was a young Iranian who is not believed to have terrorist links, Malaysian police say.
At 07:57:14 in EnglandA fire station and fire engine in Norfolk have been destroyed in a fire overnight.
At 07:54:43 in BusinessCo-op Group chief executive Euan Sutherland has offered his resignation, the BBC's Robert Peston has learned.
At 07:49:09 in Northern IrelandA man has been injured in a gun attack in west Belfast.
At 07:48:22 in EnglandAirport bosses are joining campaigners for an aircraft noise summit.
At 07:47:53 in EnglandSome 100 homes were evacuated as more than 60 firefighters dealt with a large fire at an empty mill in west Lancashire.
At 07:36:19 in EnglandA petition with nearly 800 signatures has been handed to Dorset Police urging it not to close Sherborne station's inquiry desk.
At 07:21:15 in SportDefender Ben Turner admits Cardiff City are under pressure to get results in their bid to stay in the Premier League
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Warning over anti-virus cold calls to UK internet users [Online] (Updated 15th Nov 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/108015/Warning-over-anti-virus-cold-calls-to-UK-internet-users [Accessed 11th Mar 2014]
News In Other Categories
Troubled Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt Gox has won temporary bankruptcy protection in the US.
Great Britain's wheelchair curlers suffered a dreadful morning at the Ice Cube Curling Centre with a heavy 13-4 defeat to Finland.
Co-op Group chief executive Euan Sutherland has offered his resignation, the BBC's Robert Peston has learned.
A fire station and fire engine in Norfolk have been destroyed in a fire overnight.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
MPs are set to debate a controversial measure which would give the Health Secretary the power to impose the closure of local hospital services.