Do antivirus companies create viruses to sell more software?

Deborah Salmi 2 Jun 2015

Do antivirus companies create viruses to sell more software?

Question of the week: Why does Avast and other antivirus companies try to scare us with all this news about viruses and bad apps? It makes me think you are connected to the threats.

Avast protects against hackers Antivirus companies do not create the viruses- there are enough hackers doing it already!

Avast and other reputable antivirus companies are not connected to the creation of threats - there are plenty of them without our developers making something up! But thanks for your question. We would like to help you and our other customers understand the nature of cybersecurity in today’s world and assure you that we have the tools to protect your online environment.

Enough to keep us busy

The Avast Virus Lab receives over 300,000 samples of new potential viruses every day and has documented increases in mobile malware infections, vulnerabilities in widely used software and devices, and a surge in spying via free Wi-Fi hotspots. We don't mean to scare you, but with the knowledge that more than 60 percent of companies have been the victim of an attempted cyber attack, and that Avast prevented more than 2 billion virus attacks last month, we have lots to talk about.

An example of a new type of attack was the recent discovery of a mobile app called Dubsmatch 2 which had “porn-clicker” malware hidden within it. The app was installed 100,000-500,000 times from the Google Play Store, usually a trusted source, before we notified Google and the app was removed.

“We suspect the app developer used the porn clicker method for financial gain,” wrote virus analyst Jan Piskacek. “The app developer probably received pay-per-click earnings from advertisers who thought he was displaying their ads on websites for people to actually see.

When financial gain is the motivator, cybercrooks get creative. But financial gain is not the only motivator. Hackers at Black Hat USA 2014 told surveyors that they were driven by the fun and thrill of it. (51% said so.) State-sponsored attacks are also increasingly being revealed. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are emerging as major players in hacking for political, nationalistic, and competitive gain.

Many people, even if they are aware of the threats, have not taken any action to protect themselves or their assets.

People overall are more aware of online security and privacy concerns after the revelations of the NSA’s surveillance activities, but despite that, most American adults have not made significant changes to their digital behavior, and 54% say that it would be “somewhat” or “very” difficult to find the tools and strategies that would enhance their privacy online and when using cellphones, according to a Pew Research Center report.

I have nothing to hide and I do not have the time or expertise are the most common reasons given for not taking action.

Avast is not your father’s antivirus

Since the nature of attacks has changed, we offer an "ecosystem" of protection services beyond our antivirus protection. The need for a more complete kind of protection was quite evident after the New York Times was hacked for 4 months by Chinese hackers. Jindrich Kubec, Avast's threat intelligence director, acknowledges that there's a distinction between the kinds of threats encountered by everyday Web surfers and the carefully targeted attack the Times faced, but he adds this wisdom,

"Seatbelts and airbags are wonderful protection and improve the safety of millions, but they will not stop a bullet fired -- say by a hired killer. Does it mean you will stop using airbags and seatbelts?"

Check out the varied products that Avast offers to create your own security ecosystem. Avast Mobile Security, SecureLine VPN, Browser Cleanup, and GrimeFighter are not just new ways to make money, (some of the products are free!), they are intended to keep you and your assets as safe as possible.

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