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What is Scareware and How to Delete It

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Anything could happen in the journeys of scrolling online media. One of the worst things that could happen to you currently online are viruses. And maybe that virus is scareware. Here is how to identify it and get rid of it.

What is Scareware?

Scareware is a form of malware that uses scary tactics to attract you to buy and install malware. It usually appears as an aggressive pop-up or a banner showing a fake virus scan stating you have viruses or your system is in serious danger. Then it prompts you to purchase and install a dodgy antivirus program to "solve" this issue immediately.

The bogus antivirus, of course, would only make things worse. Hackers can use malware to:

  • Steal your credit card information. Perhaps by inserting your credit card details into your system you can buy their malware. Perhaps when you reach it somewhere else, they'll see it. You lose anyway;

  • Infect yourself with malware. It could monitor your activities, collect your information, and provide it to cyber criminals. In fact, your machine could be zombified and used as a proxy to distribute the malware to people who trust you.

How do you identify Scareware?

Experienced web surfers can easily recognize scareware. Cyber criminals, however, are constantly improving their techniques to make it look more and more convincing. Many scareware has even allocated numbers for customer support. Of course, they are likely to recommend you to uninstall the existing security code or upgrade the bogus one for additional fees. Here are some examples below:

  • Annoying, offensive alerts or pop-ups. Typically they are hard to close and can take you to a malicious website or even start installing malware when you click on them;

  • Names that are untrue or unfamiliar. Generally, the recommended programs have titles you've never heard of, but identical to legal applications. Definitions include Full Safe, XP Antivirus, Security Toolkit, Registry Cleaner XP, etc. Upon installation it may even look like real antivirus software;

  • Problems with the results. After downloading the malware, your system may start to behave strangely. Your computer slows down, increases in the number of pop-ups you see, more unfamiliar programs appear, etc.;

  • It's very hard to remove the downloaded software. If you're trying to quit the installation process, throwing pop-ups, returning to the same window, crashing your browser or the entire system won't allow you to do it easily. It can take nothing short of a device wipe to get rid of it if you do download it.

How to Remove Scareware

If you have been hooked, you should delete it immediately and use legitimate antivirus software (if available) to get rid of the scareware. Be aware that the software is not likely to let you easily remove it. You can check this article here to get guidance.

Preventing Scareware

There are a multitude of things you can do to prevent something like this from happening again:

  • Make use of common sense. Do not click banners or pop-ups that are suspicious. Also download software from verified, official websites. Don't open source links that you don't trust;

  • Act fast. If an unwanted update has started or a malicious redirect has occurred while trying to close a pop-up, immediately close your app. If it froze, it will force it to quit. Then uninstall and scan your device anything that has been downloaded or installed;

  • Update the browser. It is more likely that the updated version will have better security tools; use antivirus software enabled.

  • Only make sure it's safe and don't collect your data;

  • Use ad-blocking software to block irritating pop-ups and ads;

  • Search your computer for suspicious software on a regular basis.


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