Adware Offers Bogus Security Apps

ProtectionBar exploit tricks users into installing apps that purportedly clean their machines of malware

Don't take security apps from strangers -- especially if they ask for money.

Newly discovered adware in the wild tries to dupe users into installing fake security applications. According to Panda Software's PandaLabs, the adware program, ProtectionBar, warns users that their computers are infected with malware, and they must purchase a license for the "security app" to remove the bad code.

The threat is akin to ransomware exploits, but without the actual malware.

This isn't the first exploit to play on fear of infection. Panda officials say the ruse is similar to previous exploits, such as RazeSpyware and SpySheriff, which offered to clean users' computers of spyware that either didn't exist or had been planted by the apps. The new adware may have been created by the author of those previous exploits, Panda says, because the applications have similarities. These programs often install themselves without being detected by legit anti-spyware programs, the security company says.

Panda's recommendation to security managers: Apprise users not to panic if they get such an alert and not to install the proffered apps.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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    Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
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    Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading