The Nocebo Effect On The Web : Rise Of The Fake Antivirus

If you’ve ever fallen foul of a computer virus then you will know just how big a problem they are, and how hard they are to remove.

They also cause a huge amount of frustration, making your computer a nightmare to deal with.

Therefore, if you believe you are infected with a virus right now, you may well be tempted to rush out and get any old antivirus program straight away.

What if your computer now handily pops messages up onto your screen, telling you that you are infected, and offering the solution?

Would you buy that solution so that you can put your mind at ease and fix your computer immediately?

I hope not!

The Nocebo Effect On The Web

The reason why I say that is because what I described above is fake antivirus, not the real deal.

Fake antivirus is a huge problem and it is growing rapidly.

In fact, researchers at Google recently released a report called ‘The Nocebo Effect On The Web’ which discovered that have been an ever increasing number of cases in which users were tricked into purchasing fake antivirus software.

Malware has been around pretty well since the web was first created and there are thousands, if not millions, of variants in circulation at any one time.

It is incredible, then, to think that around 15% of all that malware is of the fake antivirus variety.

So big is the problem that fake av is also pushed via malvertising (malware delivered through adverts on the web) to the point where it accounts for 50% of all such malvertising, a 500% increase on last year.

Furthermore, according to the report, the number of domains that Google detected as hosting fake antivirus software went from 93 in January 2009 up to 587 in January 2010.

Countering Fake Antivirus

If you get duped into buying fake antivirus then the money you’ve thrown away may be only one of many problems you encounter – such programs may themselves install further malware with the intention of stealing your identity and monitoring all of your web activity.

Ironically, according to Google’s report, the most effective means of avoiding fake antivirus is to utilise some kind of virus detection mechanism in the first place.

Naturally, you will want to avoid the scams and get a product from a reputable vendor – I’d recommend checking out my post about the best 10 antivirus programs of 2010.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


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