Microsoft reports scareware decline, praise from hackers
Microsoft this week disclosed new evidence that the good guys may be getting the upper hand on cybercriminals -- at least some of the time.
Microsoft says it is seeing decreases in scareware, those obnoxious online promotions that try to frighten you into paying for worthless antivirus protection, along with a decline in those faked Flash player updates that actually download viral coding that allows the bad guys to take full control of your PC.
During the first six months of 2009, Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool cleansed scareware infections from 13.4 million Windows PCs, down from 16.8 million in the last six months of 2008.
Additionally, Microsoft in the first six months of 2009 disinfected copies of the Zlob Trojan found on 2.3 million PCs, down from 21.1 million PCs cleansed of Zlob in the last six months of 2008 -- a 10-fold decrease.
And self replicating worms, like Conficker and Taterf continue to steadily infect more and more PCs. Both Taterf and Conficker spread via tainted USB flash drives.
The main way a PC gets infected is when a viral flash drive gets inserted into its USB port. The virus launches a program that looks for computers nearby sharing the internal network, and spreads the infection to those machines. As part of this loop, it corrupts all of the USB ports on each newly infected machine. So each freshly-infected PC gets primed to taint any clean flash drive that subsequently gets plugged into any of its USB ports. And the cycle repeats exponentially.
We need to ensure, we keep our anti-virus upto date, don't click on any links unless we are really sure, don't install untrusted softwares / applications and don't open any attachments. And we will continue to stay ahead of bad guys out there.