Scareware

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There are many threats in the online world today, and scareware can easily take the top when it comes to stealing money from users. This type of malware is among the oldest, and it is constantly evolving because it does not so much depend on technical improvements, as it does on social engineering.

Short Description

As the name suggests, scareware employs tactics, which aim to scare the user in some way. There are many forms of that, and commonly you can see rogue antivirus programs as a proper example. By causing the user to be afraid, the developers behind the threat usually aim to scam the victim into giving money for a barely functional, or completely useless piece of software. In some cases this software is even malicious in nature and can further damage the user’s computer or bank account. There are also other threats, which only aim to play a prank and do not do real damage.
What is Scareware?

Types of Scareware

As said above, scareware generally aims to scam people into giving money. There is more than one way to do so:

  • Rogue Antivirus/Antispyware Programs – These threats nest themselves deep within the system, and then start appearing as legitimate antivirus solutions. They will show the user simulations of threat scans, which claim that the system is in danger. Other alternatives can include simulations of system crashes. In the end, the intimidated user is subjected to an advertisement, claiming that they should buy a full version of the antivirus solution. This however is a hoax and generally these supposed solutions are complete nonsense.
  • Ransomware Applications – Another variety of scareware is ransomware. These threats will lock the desktop of the computer down. Then they proceed to show warnings claiming that the computer is seized by law entities or something else. The user is forced to pay a fine, which is usually quite significant, in order to unlock their computer.
  • Fake advertisements – Even though they do not exactly scare the user, fake advertisements can be mentioned too. These are displayed while the victim is browsing and claim that a given item is in discount for the next few hours. Rushing to buy the desired item while it is cheaper, the user ends up paying for thin air.

These are only some of the examples, which can be given for scareware. There are many other variations, which are typically observed in today’s online environment.

Methods of Operation

There are also those, which do not aim to steal money or damage your computer. These are the so-called prank viruses. As their name suggests, they start playing tricks on you. They might show you fake blue screens of death, or the notion that ants are crawling on the screen. Most of these are completely harmless, but they are incredibly annoying.

Legal Actions

Scareware development and distribution is considered a severe felony in most countries. This is why there have been numerous attempts to control the spread of this type of threat. Microsoft has launched numerous database updates for their own firewall applications in order to limit the interaction of their users with scareware as much as possible.

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