Personal Antivirus is a variant of Win32/FakeXPA - a family of programs that claims to scan for malware and displays fake warnings of “malicious programs and viruses”. They then inform the user that they need to pay money to register the software in order to remove these non-existent threats. Some members of the Win32/FakeXPA family may also download additional malware and have been observed in the wild downloading variants of Win32/Alureon
Win32/FakeXPA has been distributed with many different names. The name used by the malware, the user interface and other details vary to reflect each variant’s individual branding. The following details describe Win32/FakeXPA when it is distributed with the name Personal Antivirus.
The installer component (seen below) downloads the 'Personal Antivirus' executable, pav.exe, and runs it.
Pav.exe in turn copies itself to %PROGRAM_FILES%\PAV\pav.exe and creates these shortcuts:
It adds this registry entry:
To key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
Adds value: "PAV"
With data: "%PROGRAM_FILES%\PAV\pav.exe"
Displays false/misleading malware alerts
When run, the malware performs a fake scan of the system, and falsely claims that a number of files on the system are infected with malware. Should users request that it clean the reported infections, it advises them that they need to pay money to register the program in order for it to do so.
Please see below for examples of interface, fake alerts, false scanning results, and pop-ups used by Win32/FakeXPA when distributed as Personal Antivirus.
Analysis by Hamish O'Dea
The following system changes may indicate the presence of this Win32/FakeXPA when distributed as Personal Antivirus:
Take the following steps to help prevent infection on your system:
Enable a firewall on your computer.
Get the latest computer updates for all your installed software.
Use up-to-date antivirus software.
Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers.
Use caution when clicking on links to Web pages.
Avoid downloading pirated software.
Protect yourself against social engineering attacks.
Use strong passwords.
Enable a firewall on your computer
Use a third-party firewall product or turn on the Microsoft Windows Internet Connection Firewall.
Get the latest computer updates
Updates help protect your computer from viruses, worms, and other threats as they are discovered. It is important to install updates for all the software that is installed in your computer. These are usually available from vendor Web sites.
You can use the Automatic Updates feature in Windows to automatically download future Microsoft security updates while your computer is on and connected to the Internet.
Use up-to-date antivirus software
Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers
Exercise caution with e-mail and attachments received from unknown sources, or received unexpectedly from known sources. Use extreme caution when accepting file transfers from known or unknown sources.
Use caution when clicking on links to Web pages
Exercise caution with links to Web pages that you receive from unknown sources, especially if the links are to a Web page that you are not familiar with, unsure of the destination of, or suspicious of. Malicious software may be installed in your system simply by visiting a Web page with harmful content.
Avoid downloading pirated software
Threats may also be bundled with software and files that are available for download on various torrent sites. Downloading "cracked" or "pirated" software from these sites carries not only the risk of being infected with malware, but is also illegal. For more information, see 'The risks of obtaining and using pirated software
Protect yourself from social engineering attacks
While attackers may attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in hardware or software in order to compromise a system, they also attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in human behavior in order to do the same. When an attacker attempts to take advantage of human behavior in order to persuade the affected user to perform an action of the attacker's choice, it is known as 'social engineering'. Essentially, social engineering is an attack against the human interface of the targeted system. For more information, see 'What is social engineering?
Use strong passwords
Attackers may try to gain access to your Windows account by guessing your password. It is therefore important that you use a strong password – one that cannot be easily guessed by an attacker. A strong password is one that has at least 8 characters, and combines letters, numbers, and symbols. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/create.mspx