A sudden spate of ‘scare ware’ incidents have been attributed to malicious website adverts on popular UK websites.
The advert attempted to exploit weaknesses in Windows PCs and installed a fake virus scanner to make it appear that the victims PC had been hit by a virus by displaying a fake diagnosis. The fake virus scanner scare ware then asked for a payment to remove the infection.
According to the BBC the fake adverts originated at the online ad firm Unanimis and could have caught out ‘tens of thousands’ of people.
David Nelson, operations and IT director at Unanimis, told the BBC that security alerts revealed the existence of the booby-trapped adverts at 1800 GMT on 27 February and they quickly pulled the adverts once they were discovered. They further report that clearing out the adverts took about three hours.
Mr Nelson is reported to have said that Unanimis was still investigating the incident but that “unauthorised access” to the Unanimis web servers allowed the criminals to inject their malicious code into the adverts. “The [adverts] they chose to modify were not being widely distributed,” said Mr Nelson.
If Caught Out, Don’t Pay Out!
Philip Brassington from Rake Mark Solutions reported that two customers contacted him early this week reporting that they had a virus on their computers. Quick investigations confirmed that they were victims of the recent scare ware outbreak, with the fake warnings being displayed on their desktops.
Mr Brassington said, ‘Paying the fee on this or any scare ware attack will rarely, if ever fix your problem. Depending on the sophistication of the virus sometimes a system restore can fix the issue. In a worst case scenario the computer may need to be completely cleaned of all data and have the operating system fully re-installed, but this should be a lower cost and more effective than paying the scammers.