Rogue anti-virus tired, Google Wave wired, says Kaspersky

The anti-virus company predicted a dramatic dip in the rogue anti-virus malware category for 2010, as law enforcement agencies and legitimate anti-virus vendors make it harder for the criminals selling these systems to peddle their wares.

"The fake anti-virus market has now been saturated and the profits for Cybercriminals have fallen. Moreover, this kind of activity is closely monitored by both IT security companies and law enforcement agencies. This makes it increasingly difficult to create and distribute fake anti-virus programs", Kaspersky said.

While rogue anti-virus software may become less popular with online criminals, Google's Wave system is likely to be the target of increased scrutiny from online scammers, Kaspersky warned. Wave is designed as an alternative to email, providing real-time, synchronous communications that can be embedded in other pages.

"Attacks on this new Google service will no doubt follow the usual pattern: first, the sending of spam, followed by phishing attacks, then the exploiting of vulnerabilities and the spreading of malware", Kaspersky warned.

Customers would also be well-advised to watch the test scores of legitimate anti-virus tools, if Kaspersky's other warning comes true. The anti-virus company said that tools designed to detect and neutralise malware will become less effective as malware writers continue to develop more sophisticated malware designed to subvert detection mechanisms.

Rogue anti-virus programs are sold via web pages that fool visitors into thinking that their computers may be infected. These web pages, which are often seach-engine optimized to appear at the top of search results, offer programs that supposedly clean the infected machine, in exchange for a credit card payment. The programs contain rudimentary virus protection if any, and many of them install their own malware on the system.

Symantec said recently in its July 2009-July 2009 Rogue Antivirus report that it had identified 250 different strains of fake anti-virus software. Kaspersky said that victims in the US generated the highest price-per-installation, paid to affiliates who managed to persuade visitors to deploy the software on their PCs.

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