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A red exclamation point. Flashing text. You’ve been infected by a virus! But can you take anything for granted in the online world? That alert might be scareware. Find out how to identify and get rid of it.
Nov 22, 2019 · 3 min read
Scareware is a form of malware that uses frightening tactics to lure you into purchasing and installing malicious software. It usually appears in the form of an aggressive pop-up or a banner that displays a fake virus scan stating that you have viruses or your system is in grave danger. Then it prompts you to buy and install some dodgy antivirus program to immediately “solve” this problem.
Of course, the fake antivirus would only make matters worse. It’s malware that hackers can use to:
Experienced online surfers recognize scareware pretty easily. However, cybercriminals are always improving their techniques to make it look increasingly convincing. Some scareware even has designated customer support numbers. Of course, they’ll probably advise you to delete your existing security software or update the fake one for additional charges. Below are some of the common characteristics of scareware:
Keep in mind that genuine antivirus software will never start scanning your system out of the blue and display the result in the form or an online pop-up or a banner before you’ve even installed it.
In case you got hooked, you should immediately delete it and use legitimate antivirus software (if available) to get rid of the scareware. Be aware that the software probably won’t let you remove it easily. For additional tips on how to remove unwanted software, check our article on bloatware, which has more detailed instructions.
To prevent this form of malware, do the following:
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