Symantec has moved to immediately strip one of its partners of authorised reseller status after rival security vendor Malwarebytes caught it engaging in an apparent tech support hustle.
The vendor confirmed it has terminated its partner agreement with US-based Registered partner Silurian Tech Support after its alleged rogue antics were exposed by Malwarebytes in a blog post yesterday.
Silurian was uncovered by Malwarebytes as the unlikely source of a scam it dubbed "one of the worst cases of abuse we have seen by far".
The hustle saw users targeted with fake warnings designed to resemble Symantec's flagship Norton Antivirus product. Having attempted to dupe the user – in this case a Malwarebytes researcher – into believing their machine was infected, a technician asked them to pay $199 (£139) for a one-time fix and installation of Norton, or $249 for a one-year warranty with Norton.
Silurian Tech Support had been a member of Symantec's partner programme since July 2014, but Symantec confirmed its partner status has now been revoked.
"While we can't say conclusively who was behind this particular scam, we can confirm that this particular site has been taken down and that we are also in the process of terminating our partner agreement with Silurian," Symantec told CRN in a statement.
"After identifying any abuse of the Norton or Symantec brand, we pursue our rights and defend our intellectual property, and where necessary will work with law enforcement."
According to Malwarebytes, Silurian's website has since been taken down.
Jérôme Segura, senior security researcher at Malwarebytes who authored the blog, said it was regrettable that an authorised partner appeared to be the source of this kind of tech scam, which has proved popular among fraudsters, particularly in the Microsoft space.
"We immediately reported all of our evidence to Symantec who took this case very seriously and confirmed that this company was indeed a member of the programme," he said. "Symantec also let us know that they were going to take immediate action to resolve this issue.
"It is a sad state of affairs when tech support scammers are not ashamed of using lies to sell their products and services but also double-cross their partners, thereby inflicting brand and reputation damage."
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