Tuesday, June 22, 2004

McAfee VirusScan Detects 98.9% of Dialer Trojans

Dialers Ring Up Hijacked Phone Charges
Also known as "drive by downloads", Web Dialers—often sporting garish names like XXXDial or CashDialer — prey on dial-up account users running unpatched Windows operating systems, older versions of Internet Explorer or PCs without good anti-virus software.

The scam is devilishly simple: Simply by visiting a site, you can become targeted and have your online session redirected to an expensive ISP—in the blink of an eye, without your immediate knowledge.

Some pages are more brazen, asking unsuspecting surfers to "Click here to see adult content" or "Play a game", which trigger the download of nefarious payloads in the background.

"Most Web Dialers don't ask permission before they drop a piece of executable code", explained Bryson Gordon, senior product manager for McAfee VirusScan. "Regardless, they all instantly disconnect your session, then reconnect you to another service. You notice nothing, until a month later when your phone bill arrives with unexpected charges."

The threat is huge. "We've detected about 250,000 different Web Dialers, many spawned by organized crime in Eastern Europe," Gordon added. "And since August 2003, we've noted 4 million computers affected. It's not uncommon to have victims report $5,000 charges on their phone bill. Some Dialers redirect to services charging up to $500 per minute."

The Best Way to Hang Up on Web Dialers

Follow a key anti-virus best practice: Always update your OS with the latest patches from Microsoft.

Install spyware detection. For example, McAfee VirusScan detects then deletes a range of intrusive spyware, from Web Dialers and adware to key loggers, which secretly rob passwords, log-ins and credit card number numbers.

"A recent German study comparing spyware detection by 15 anti-virus products put VirusScan at No. 1, with the highest Web Dialer detection rate, 98.9%," said Gordon, "far ahead of Symantec at just 65%."

Regularly run on-demand spyware scans, especially if you frequent online adult or gaming destinations.

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