Criminals target Windows XP for scams as support ends

Criminals are increasingly targeting Windows XP users with fake software and security updates following the end of support for the OS, a security researcher has warned.

Christopher Boyd, a malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, warned that since the end of support for Windows XP last week, there are been a marked increase in the number of adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) targeting users of the operating system.

He said there have been numerous YouTube videos advertising programs and functionality related to Windows XP, a lot of which were linked to adware.

XP may be dead and gone in terms of updates, but that doesn't mean pitfalls and boobytraps have followed suit

One such PUP, known as PUP.Optional.Amonetize.A, has been classed by Malwarebytes and other IT security firms as "undesirable". This application bills itself as a Keygen downloader for an antivirus application.

Another keygen program aiming at XP users the firm detected was one that purported to allow users to install Windows XP Media Center Edition. It said such tools were likely to affect the operation of a user's computer.

One other PUP called YourFileDownloader advertised a Windows XP driver update application.

"I'll hazard a guess and say if you're still running XP by this point, you probably don't need any help keeping that box up to date with drivers and everything else," said Boyd.

"Take care with the last minute surge of XP themed downloads and offers whether on social networks, forums or video sharing sites a lot of what you're going to see over the coming weeks will probably not do you any favours to install or sign up to. XP may be dead and gone in terms of updates, but that doesn't mean pitfalls and boobytraps have followed suit," Boyd added.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.