Beware fake AVG / anti-virus support sites

Mon, 03/09/2018 - 15:16 -- James Oakley
AVG

A few years ago, I posted about the anti-virus software provided by AVG. At the time, their free version was very popular, and maybe still is. My post was about them earning extra money from their free users by changing their privacy policy in a somewhat unsavoury direction.

Since then, I've had several instances of comment-spammers against that post. I presume the spammers were searching for webpages that mention AVG and that have public commenting enabled. I could just disable comments on what is now an old post, but it's proving to be a useful honeypot to catch another kind of internet trouble-maker. I introduced you to the suspicious privacy policy; I now introduce you to the impersation site.

I won't reward their misdemeanours by linking to them here. Besides, there will be more than one such site, so it's more important to outline the general principles at work. Let me summarise what they do.

  • They know that people have problems with software. Many end-users need support.
  • AVG themselves offer free support. These scammers wish you to use them for support. Who knows what happens if you use their support instead. At best, you get charged for what you could get elsewhere for free. At worst, they ask for remote access to your computer and install backdoor software whilst there.
  • They set up a website that tries its hardest to look like a real AVG site.
    • The masthead has the AVG logo printed large.
    • They advertise a contact phone number which is labelled as "Avg Support Number UK" and "AVG Customer Care UK Toll "
    • The website is even titled "AVG Tech Support" and "AVG Support UK".
  • Now they have a site that looks like the real thing, all they have to do is trick you to land there. To do that, they comment-spam (leave comments on legitimate sites that links to them). The comments are stuffed with relevant keywords, and look genuine.

Here's an example from something posted on this site just last week:

 If you are not finding the right way to deal with problems regarding AVG crash, you can consult the tech executives available at AVG help number UK who knows the best way to handle these technical issues in the shortest time period. Moreover, they are available at your service all round the clock.

The bad English gives the game away slightly. But some people will click through from the spam comments and find the "support" site.

The longer term game is for search engines will see that the "support" site is linked from reputable sites like this one. That means they give the fake site increasing credence, and it will rank higher as people search for AVG support. 

Then, they just sit and wait for people to use their fake services. Simple.

In this particular case, I took the trouble to contact AVG and report the fake site to them. They confirmed the site is fake, and they've now put a red-letter warning on their genuine support site that theirs is the only domain from which genuine AVG support can be obtained.

So, anti-virus user, beware. Never follow a link from another website to find the support you need. Ideally, don't even use search engines to find the support page. Load up the actual homepage for the vendor you need (or follow the help / support links within the anti-virus application you've installed), and navigate from there.

Just so you've got it: The real webpage for AVG Support is https://support.avg.com/

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