Microsoft has warned Windows users to be on their guard against a piece of rogue antivirus software passing itself off as Microsoft Security Essentials.
Security essentials 2010 is a piece of software Microsoft said installs a fake virus scanner on your machine and]monitors and blocks processes it doesn't like.
The software will also block access to websites of antivirus and malware companies and flag up a warning message. You can see the list of blocked sites here.
Security essentials 2010 blocks access by downloading a Win32/Alureon component and another Layered Service Provider component, Microsoft's David Wood wrote on the company's Malware Protection Center blog.
"This LSP monitors the TCP traffic sent by various Web browsers that the user might have installed, and blocks any traffic to certain domains," Wood said.
Adding insult to injury, Security essentials 2010 charges you to scan and remove files on your machine, claiming the version you will have initially downloaded is just a trial edition. Microsoft's Security Essentials is available without charge to PC users running a genuine copy of Windows.
Wood noted that it's common practices for rogue antivirus products to pass themselves off as the real deal with a similar look and feel, and it's been commonplace for hackers to mimic Windows Security Center. "It was inevitable that the day would arrive when a rogue would masquerade as something similar to Microsoft Security Essentials. If anything, it surprises me a little that it's taken so long," Wood said.
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