Fake virus alerts are especially nasty forms of adware because they play on our fears and by exploiting these fears, put us at greater risk of what we were worried about in the first place.
Fake virus alerts are paid for by cybercriminals who hope you will take the bait and download their malware onto your computer.
Where you can encounter fake virus alerts
They usually come in the form of pop-windows that appear when you visit certain websites. The best way to avoid these pop-ups s not to visit these websites again. Websites to avoid are sites offering free access to a service you would normally have to pay for. These sites include those offering streaming versions of the latest episodes of television series or current movies.
These usually appear as pop-up messages on your computer screen or any mobile device including your phone. This pop-up pretends to be an antivirus cybersecurity product that has detected malware infections on your computer.
Unfortunately, there is not why of gauging the risks before you visit a site. Fake virus alert removals can only be carried out by those who own the website’s domain name.
Use common sense
Through years of online experience most of us can identify risky sites before we click on a link to them. If you see a site may be risky or you receive an alert from your browser warning that it might be unsecured, don’t click on the link.
If you have an anti-virus programme on your device, you should never receive a virus alert and if so, you must come to the conclusion immediately that this is a fake notification and should be ignored at all costs.
Reasons not to click the bogus link
There is a chance your system has already been comprised if you have clicked on the link. This means these message have found a a way to lock your browser disabling your ability to leave the fake message unless you restart your browser. If you can’t close the browser tab and can’t select another tab you will have to force quit your browser and then open it without reloading all the tabs open from the previous session.
You might be able to close the tab and restart the browser and the bogus alert will disappear. Sadly, this is rarely the case and you will have to uninstall and install your browser all over again.
In the worst-case scenario, the malware compromising your system calls for a total system reset. This is why it is essential to back up your files on a USB stick or save them to the Cloud.
How to spot a fake alert
- Fake-sounding product names that you have never heard of before
- Vague promises such as commitments to keeping your computer virus free if you cough up the sizable fee
- High frequency of alerts. If you are receiving these alerts more than once daily, then the alert is likely to be fake
- Poor English and spelling mistakes. Reputable companies very rarely publicly send out messages that are riddled with errors.