Friday, April 17, 2009

Scareware Spreads

While surfing the Web in December, Keren Brophy got a message on her computer screen telling her to update her antivirus software. The pop-up message looked similar to Windows security warnings she'd routinely received. She paid $49.99 for a program called Antivirus 2009 from a company calling itself Meyrocorp and thought she was safe.

A few days after she installed the software, Ms. Brophy's computer wouldn't boot up properly and soon was unusable; she noticed the desktop icon for the software she'd bought had disappeared. She had to wipe her hard drive clean to get the computer working again. Hoping for a refund, she sent email to Meyrocorp but got only automated replies.

Read the rest of this fascinating and frustrating Wall Street Journal article.

A life sentence to prison should be the standard penalty for scareware, malware, and the other extreme computer crimes. The amount of disruption and harm that they do is difficult to calculate.

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