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Disk Defraggers Pose Security Risk
By: wubayou
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    If you have a history of surfing the Internet, you have probably come across fake antivirus software at least once. If you haven't, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. This article will explain what it is, discuss the rise of the latest form of this nastiness, and explain how you can protect yourself.

    Fake antivirus software, also known as scareware, usually comes in the form of a popup that states your computer has become infected with a virus. In order to remove the virus and protect yourself, the popup prompts you to purchase fake antivirus software. Should the scam be effective in its attempt to dupe you, you then proceed to try to make a payment to purchase the software. Once you submit your credit card information, your sensitive data comes into the possession of hackers.

    While this method of using scareware has been implemented and copied many times in the past, cybercriminals are now resorting to a new tactic: fake disk defraggers. Instead of providing phony claims of protecting your computer, hackers are now trying to trick you by offering services to optimize its performance and fix errors. GFI Labs, a company that offers software in the realm of online security, recently discovered the phony defraggers and documented their existence in a blog post. GFI grouped the new wave of phony software into a new classification it has labeled FakeAV-Defrag.

    GFI first detected defragger clones in mid-November. The clones carried such names as ScanDisk, WinHDD, and UltraDefragger. The programs posed as disk utilities and falsely offered to find HDD read/write errors. In the past few weeks of December, additional members of the FakeAV-Defrag family were detected: HDDPlus, HDDRescue, HDDRepair, and HDDDiagnostic. Although they all carried different names, both November's and December's crop of FakeAV-Defrag programs shared a similar format and appearance. Creators of such products often change their names to avoid detection by legitimate antivirus scanners. Changing names frequently also helps them pass by the watchful eyes of Internet users.

    The creation and use of fake defragger programs by hackers is a clever advancement on old scareware tactics. Many computer users have heard of disk defragmenter utilities and their benefits. Over time, pieces of files become scattered on a hard drive. Defragmenting the drive puts the pieces together in a continuous form. This helps make a PC faster, since it will not have to reassemble files properly once again when accessing them. Although defragmenting has helped in the past with making PCs faster, it is not as much of a savior where newer computers are concerned, mostly due to improved technology. Regardless, many users do believe that the process helps, and this belief can make them susceptible to phony defraggers.

    There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the FakeAV-Defrag family of products. You can run an updated version of a trusted antivirus program and run scans regularly. If you happen to come across a suspicious product, research its name on the Internet. Several tell-tale signs accompany phony software. For example, do not trust programs that you come across via spam emails or popups. Also, if a program states that you must purchase it before you can use it, avoid doing so. Finally, do not trust any programs that prompt you to update your browser.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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