Prosecutors claim that internet users were fooled into purchasing
Dr Virus by fake security warnings.
According to Korean media
reports, a 41-year-old woman has been charged with distributing
bogus anti-virus software to over a million internet users.
Lee Shin-ja, a former CEO of Media Port, is said to have earned
over 9.2 billion won (approximately US $9.8 million) since 2005
with a free anti-spyware program that displayed fake security
warnings and directed internet users to purchase Media Port's
Doctor Virus clean-up solution costing 3850 won ($4.10) a
Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office claims that
41-year-old Lee hired two computer programmers to assist in the
scheme. Both have been charged in connection with the case, and are
said to have deliberately coded the software to display false
security alerts on files which were not infected with spyware or
"More and more people are becoming concerned about the security
of their personal computer - and it's all too easy for the
unscrupulous to try and fool users into believing a bogus warning,"
Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "In this case
3.96 million internet users are reported to have tried the free
software, with 1.26 million people going on to purchase the 'cure'.
With those kind of figures it's no surprise that the authorities
are looking seriously into whether a large number of people have
been defrauded by scareware."
Sophos experts note that there are hundreds of different
security programs competing in the South Korea market, many of
which are not well-known in the rest of the world.
"Unlike much of the rest of the world, it's not uncommon for
South Korean computer users to run multiple anti-virus programs at
the same time - probably because many of their homegrown solutions
don't come with an on-access scanner," explained Cluley. "This
environment increases the likelihood that people will download and
'test the water' with a product they stumbled across on the
internet. Unfortunately it seems there are cybercriminals desperate
for increasing marketshare who are prepared to scare users into
making an ill-informed security purchase."
An unnamed spokesperson for Doctor Virus claims that their
software is no longer displaying bogus security warnings.