Fake antivirus programs are some of the worst and most unrelenting malware. Also referred to as “scareware”, they are designed to scare computer users into purchasing unnecessary software programs. A typical fake antivirus will supposedly run a free scan of your computer and then tell you that your system is infected with viruses. You are then advised to purchase an antivirus program that is in fact malware, possibly developed to steal your personal information, including personal credentials, your social security number, online banking details or credit card information. This information could later be used for extortion purposes or other criminal activities.

Buyers beware!

Fake antivirus programs are usually sold by criminal groups, many of which are located overseas. In addition to extorting money from unsuspecting users, such program may also leave spyware on affected hard drives. These include Trojans, used to grab information from your computer and exposing you to identity theft. This could be even more costly than getting conned for a product that is worthless. Fortunately, there are solutions to protect you from fake antivirus programs.

Fake warnings

If a virus alert appears on your screen that is not from an already installed program, assume that it is malware and block it from running on your computer. Do not try to close the window. Instead, close your browser, using Task Manager or completely shut down your PC. Alternatively, use Task Manager to identify the rogue program and delete it. If both options fail, it’s probably time to call a professional since you might need to reinstall all your computer settings.

Removing scareware

In case you download a fake antivirus program unknowingly, the best way to get rid of it is to install an up-to-date antivirus or anti-spyware on your PC. This would help remove the scareware immediately. Ideally, you should set your PC to safe mode, install the antivirus program and then scan your computer. Fortunately, the installation processes for most antivirus programs are quite easy. All you have to do is follow the instructions provided in the installation wizard.

Trusted software

It is important to always have a trusted antivirus program actively running on your computer. You could buy one from a computer store or a reputable website. A thorough research of the antivirus software and the company that developed it would be helpful in determining whether it is reliable. This is especially true, if you choose to download the antivirus from an online source. Actual user reviews could help you learn about the software’s effectiveness and whether it suits your needs.

Prevention

Fake antivirus programs are usually found on dodgy websites, so these should always be avoided. These include websites which contain a lot of pop-ups and chat boxes. Avoid visiting such sites and/or clicking on those pop-ups at all costs.

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