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Windows Movie Maker Scam Uses SEO to Go Global

A Windows Movie Maker scam has gone global, thanks to having a high Google ranking.

Amid continuing demand for Windows Movie Maker, Microsoft’s free video editing software that was discontinued in January 2017, ESET found that scammers are hawking a modified version of the software, built to bilk money from unsuspecting users. Interestingly, the spread of the scam has been boosted by search engine optimization of the crooks’ website.

When users install this particular software, they appear to get a functioning Windows Movie Maker—but it continuously prompts the user to “upgrade to the full version” in order to access all features. The upgrade will set victims back $29.95, in what is presented as a 25% discount on the payment website.

ESET said that the website spreading the modified software, windows-movie-maker.org, comes up as one of the top results when searching for “Movie Maker” and “Windows Movie Maker” on Google. On Bing, the search engine with the second largest global market share, the website is also placed on the first page of results. As a consequence, the crooks behind the scam have “managed to reach a global audience,” ESET noted.

For those who have already installed the Movie Maker bogus version, they should uninstall it and run a scan using a reputable anti-malware solution. Users could also consider using the official replacement for the discontinued software—in this case, Windows Story Remix.

ESET recommends that to avoid falling victim to similar scams, users should always stick to official sources when downloading software.

“If you really need to use a piece of software that’s no longer distributed by its original maker, make sure you use a reliable security solution to detect and block malicious content, and don’t pay for software that is or was officially offered for free,” researchers said. “Information on software pricing should be available online.”

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