Did you know about Fake Security Software?


By now you’ve heard of spyware and malware. Another cybercrime that is plaguing Internet users is scareware. Scareware is fake security software and is an incredibly profitable business for scammers. The best defense is becoming aware of the dangers.

It’s Lurking

How do we come in contact with scareware? Compromised web sites, fake malicious advertisements, and blackhat search engine optimization are the most common sources. A compromised web site is one in which someone has redirected legitimate site traffic to malicious servers. Fake advertisements may be in the form of pop ups on any number of sites. Black hat search optimization is using unethical means to push a web site up in the search rankings and drive increased traffic to a site.

Looks Safe

The problem is scareware is that it looks safe. It says that it is warning you about a horrible risk to your computer. It may say that you are already infected with a virus. When it has you sufficiently worried, it offers to help you eradicate the problem. All you have to do is click the link and purchase their security.

Execution Style

When a user executes the program, it blocks any antivirus protection programs from launching as well as blocking it from updating. Even if a user does not purchase and execute the program, it can invade the computer and initiate continuous, intrusive pop ups insisting that the computer is at risk.


Historically, removing scareware is a very labor intensive project and may require downloading third party programs and working in safe mode. It is time consuming and difficult.


Obviously, the best way to prevent a scareware invasion is to learn how to recognize a scam. One way to see through the deception is on their websites. In an attempt to look legitimate, they will use icons from trusted businesses – the trick is that those icons are not actually linked to the sites. Another giveaway is the use of fake charts comparing efficacy. Don’t be scared into purchasing! These charts are entirely false and this is evident if you take the time to research. The worst of all types of scams is the one that simulates a virus scan. It warns the user that their computer is infected and continues to harass with pop up windows declaring, “You’re Infected!” in an attempt to frighten the user into following the links.


If you are unsure about a security site, check Common Computing Security Standards for the legitimacy. Virus Total also analyzes suspicious files and URLs and maintains a list.