SOURCE: AVG Technologies

AVG Technologies

September 24, 2009 11:00 ET

Can You Hustle a Hustler?

AVG's Hustlers Are Coming to a Town Near You, and They Have a Point to Prove

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS--(Marketwire - September 24, 2009) - AVG Technologies, The UK's number one Internet security provider is sending hustlers on to the streets and issuing a challenge to eagle-eyed members of the public to beat them at their own game.

AVG's 'hustlers' -- performers with astonishing magic and sleight-of-hand skills -- will be in town centres around the UK between 26 September and 28 November 2009. AVG has enlisted the hustlers to demonstrate the damage that can be done in the real world by cyber criminals online. It's a bit of fun, and a chance to see some impressive show-boating, but its motivation is to highlight serious bad-practice by a new breed of criminals who AVG has termed 'Data Snatchers'.

Pictures and videos of the hustles will be posted on AVG's Facebook Data Snatcher fanpage and prizes of a Netbook and a Blackberry are being offered to the person who posts the best comment on the site.

Data Snatchers circumnavigate usual anti-virus software to steal information, which they then use to wreak havoc for victims, stealing private data to access credit or tamper with personal websites and email accounts. They're incredibly hard to catch because they never stay in one place for long, and steal only small amounts of data to remain un-checked. Because they are so subtle, a person generally doesn't realise they've been attacked until the Data Snatchers' illegal behaviour has repercussions in the real world; cards or loan applications being declined, for example, or personal information or photographs leaked online.

"Fortunately our hustlers are ultimately honourable!" said Mike Foreman, MD at AVG. "But, unfortunately, the same can't be said for the real-life Data Snatchers that we're after, who will use any means to steal deeply private information for their own gain. We want the public to have fun catching our hustlers, but we also hope this activity will urge them to keep their safety front of mind when online. It's so easy to avoid being a target, but much harder to rectify the damage if these malicious individuals are allowed to get hold of your data."

Data Snatchers range from malicious hackers looking for entertainment, to opportunistic cyber criminals looking for huge profits. Whatever their motivation, they have one thing in common: a total disregard for the people they target.

AVG has developed LinkScanner (http://linkscanner.avg.com/), a free tool designed specifically to catch the Data Snatchers and stop them in their tracks. LinkScanner checks individual links in real-time, without impacting computer speeds, to ensure they have not been attacked.

A heads-up on the hustles

AVG is challenging people in the UK to outsmart its street hustlers and stop them in their tracks by posting their whereabouts, and the secret to the hustle, on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. AVG hopes that enough people will unmask the hustlers that they will eventually exhaust their bag of tricks, meaning they'll have to give up and go home.

The hustles will be filmed, so intrepid detectives and keen-eyed passers-by may have the opportunity to be featured on AVG's Facebook page as they unmask the hustlers.

To unmask a hustler go to www.twitter.com/datasnatchers or www.facebook.com/datasnatchers and post details of the hustle and how it works. Once the secret is out the hustlers will move to a new trick, and keep going until they run out of ideas!

AVG's hustlers will be at key locations at town centres, such as the UK's first ever cash machine in Enfield and Manchester's busiest hole-in-the-wall on Portland Street, carrying out sly routines including the 'eight card brainwave', 'money switch' and more.

The routines are all designed to entertain, but also to make people think about the impact of Data Snatchers on their own lives, hopefully with the result that they'll avoid being scammed in the future, thus scuppering the real-life Data Snatchers and their cruel malpractice.

AVG's hustlers will be sneaking around close to the following locations between 10am and 4pm:

--  26 September: World's first electronic cashpoint, Barclay's Bank,
    Enfield
--  10 October: Newcastle's busiest cashpoint, Northumberland Street
--  24 October: Birmingham City FC, Sunderland match day
--  7 November: London's 'cockney cashpoint', Spitalfields, London
--  14 November: Princes Street, Edinburgh; one of Scotland's busiest
    shopping streets
--  28 November: Manchester's busiest cashpoint, Natwest, Portland Street
    

For more information on the complete range of AVG security products for consumers and small businesses, please visit www.avg.co.uk.

Keep in touch with AVG

For up-to-the-minute news on the latest cyberthreats:

-- Subscribe to AVG Chief Research Officer Roger Thompson's blog

For general AVG updates:

-- Follow AVG on Twitter

-- Register at the official site

Notes to editors

Data Snatching

Data Snatching is the practice of 'skimming' personal data such as Internet passwords or credit card information from people browsing the internet. Cyber criminals post bogus pages behind links on genuine websites, which few people would spot, and then wait for the information to come to them. They can target even the most popular and common websites, lurking behind individual pages for only a small amount of time, which is why they are so difficult to catch. As many as one in eight web-users will unknowingly come across a poisoned page once a month.

Once snatched, data is used for everything from hacking personal web sites, email and social media or credit card accounts. Because victims rarely know they've been targeted, the first they will hear of it is often when credit cards or loan applications are declined due to malpractice on personal accounts; or when they find their personal email or social media accounts have been maliciously targeted.

Data Snatching is a new practice thought up by organised criminals in an attempt to circumnavigate sophisticated anti-virus software. Because they sit behind individual web-pages, for short amounts of time, standard software cannot identify them. This is why AVG has created LinkScanner, which scans individual internet links, without impacting operation speeds, to catch the Data Snatchers red-handed.