ID Theft and Rogue Security Software: Users Not Cautions Enough, Sophos and Symantec Discover
Article by George Norman
On 21 Oct 2009
Sophos and Symantec are two of the big names in the security software world. Sophos ran a social experiment to see if people are cautious of identity theft. Symantec on the other had focused on rogue security software applications – those annoying apps that claim to be legitimate security software only to scam you out of some money.

Starting with Sophos (company that specializes in providing Antivirus, anti-spam, spyware removal software, network and internet security, data protection, and computer security solutions), the social experiment the company performed showed that people are willing to share private information with complete strangers. By private information I mean full name, birth date and email address. Out of all the people Sophos interviewed, all of them knew a bit about ID theft. But only one of them refused to give Sophos personable, identifiable information. You can view the whole thing on YouTube here.


After the experiment, Senior Technology Consultant with Sophos, Graham Cluley, had this to comment: “We took the unusual step of acting like identity thieves by using a video camera to find out what people thought of identity theft. We were mortified by how many people were prepared to share their personal information with complete strangers.”

Moving on, Symantec (company that specializes in providing antivirus, antispyware, and internet security software solutions) has uncovered that rogue antispyware products use “increasingly persuasive scare tactics” to scam users out of their hard earned money. These rogue security software applications fool the user into believing that his system has been infected; when the user wants to remove the infection, the rogue refuses to do anything until a full version is purchased (or until the product is registered, or until a license is purchased). The thing to keep in mind is that a rogue cannot detect, remove and protect against security threats, no matter what some sites may say. It is all just malicious advertising meant to push you to download and install the software on your machine.

Speaking of which, Symantec’s study revealed that 93% of rogue installations (for the top 50 rogue scams) were initiated by the user. This means the user intentionally clicked the “I want to download this software” link.

The study was conducted over a period of 12 months, from July 2008 to June 2009. Additional details here.

Tags: ID theft, Scareware, Rogue Security Software, Sophos, Symantec
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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