The new Windows 10 update comes with many changes that include feature upgrades, security improvements, and user interface enhancements. With the release of this operating system, Microsoft made commitments to maintain and update Windows 10, so users can feel secure as they work and engage the online world. Although malware and viruses continue to rank at the top of the list of the dangers people face every time they go online, another threat, scareware, has increased in prominence. Scareware often masquerades as legitimate software, so it continues to affect users, despite the enhancements to the Windows operating system.
Criminals, shady businesses, and malicious coders create scareware to shock and intimidate users into thinking their computer has viruses, spyware, open firewall ports, corrupt registry entries, or other security flaws. After notifying users of a supposed dire threat, scareware popups intimidate or trick desperate users into buying software or services in hopes of resolving the apparent problem.
How it works
Computer users can encounter scareware warnings while browsing the World Wide Web. It comes in many different flavors, but it almost always conveys a sense of urgency or emergency to its targets, warning users of severe consequences if they do not immediately act. Desperate for a solution and afraid of the consequences of inaction, victims consent to buy phony or malicious registry, virus, or security scans that might install additional scareware, ransomware, viruses, malware, or adware or leave computers open to future hacking attacks. At the very least, scareware can continue pestering the users with popup warnings and alerts asking them to take additional or different actions to solve ongoing fictitious computer security issues.
Scareware titles often seem authentic, giving scared computer users reasons to believe they will solve their supposed computer problem. Some examples of the thousands of known scareware apps include names that might make the fake products sound helpful:
Criminals, hackers, and pranksters continually update their tools, so the list of active scareware varies with time. After understanding the problem, computer users should educate themselves about scareware and how to avoid or minimize the threats it represents.
Windows 10 has many built-in features designed to boost the safety of computer users. When combined with third-party security applications, users can stop a substantial portion of the virus, malware, phishing, and other attacks that threaten them. Scareware often does not represent an overt threat, so computer security apps often fail to detect it, but there are ways to combat it.
Scareware commonly uses popup windows, a built-in feature of Web browsers, to lure victims. While browsing the Internet, users suddenly see a window that tells them their computer has registry problems, viruses, or security problems. The window also provides a button that users can click to download security software, get a convenient online scan, or take similar action. Most of the time, users have no way to predict if a website will spawn a popup window or what the popup window will contain, helping to explain why scareware has become so widespread.
To combat this method of distribution, users can change their browser settings to disable popups. Third party applications such as ad blockers can enhance browser functionality, giving the user more options about what content to block or allow.
Even after blocking popup windows and installing other tools, computer users might still encounter scareware windows and messages. Also, complicating matters, scareware now exists that affects users of other devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and smart TVs.
Do you need to remove scareware?
On its own, in most cases, scareware does not represent a threat as long as users do not respond to it by clicking buttons, buying software or services, or downloading software. If users just close the popup window, regardless of how authentic or scary the message looks, they can almost always escape unscathed. If, however, users clicked a button or took other action inside the scareware window, they might have either installed software they will want to remove or caused other problems for their computer they will want to correct.
The effort to removing scareware once it resides on a computer can result in even more problems, because Internet searches for removal tools might lead users to download fake repair products that can cause more problems. Users who choose to leave scareware installed, should at the very least, warn other users of the same computer about its presence and how to respond to it if it appears.
Many online resources exist that help computer users learn more about new and existing scareware threats, how various scareware, and how to remove scareware. Some websites track scareware incidents and rank them based on the frequency, type, and severity. Although this sort of website can often provide instructions for removing scareware, users should peruse only reputable sites to avoid exposure to additional threats. Removal of computer scareware can be as simple as installing a legitimate anti-malware program that scans, cleans, and repairs the Windows registry.
Responsible computer owners will always have a good security software application installed to protect them from online threats such as viruses and malware. Although such applications do not directly block scareware, users can take additional countermeasures, such as blocking pop-up windows, which will help them avoid becoming a victim. Ultimately, the awareness of the existence of scareware and the vigilance to avoid responding to it might offer the best way to contain the threat.
Gabriel is a tech writer and enthusiast that wants to share his experience with the world. He has been working in tech for a while, but just recently directed his attention to writing. He likes onion rings and pickles and is a worthy opponent in a game of Risk. You can reach him @Gabemich1337