Fake Anti-Viruses: Preventing and Fighting these Scams

Continuing along the theme of IT scams, this post will discuss fake anti-viruses and how these scams can be prevented.  Chances are that you have encountered this type of scam at  some point during online personal and or professional business transactions.  Fake anti-viruses come in the form of pestering popups, warning you that if you don’t sign up for their services your system will be infected.  The irony is that the very program telling you to sign up to eliminate a threat is a threat itself.   This is a multi-million dollar industry.  In 2014, two Florida companies who created these scams were caught after pulling in more than $120 million (Nichols, 2014).  As frivolous companies find this business more and more lucrative, you should be more aware of how these scams can hurt you.  Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t do anything at all – Most of these popups will want you to click on a link or sign up for some sort of program.  Do not do it!  It may sound tempting at first hand, but it will cause you a tremendous amount of a headache down the line.  Stay away from clicking links in your e-mail, pop-ups or anything you are unsure of.
  2. Don’t buy into the scare tactics – Alerts like ‘YOUR PC IS UNPROTECTED’ or ‘ATTENTION! 22 THREATS FOUND’ are high-pressure scare tactics that are used by fake anti-viruses to get you to buy into whatever these scams are trying to get from you. The image below is an example of  pop-ups that may appear on your screen.AntiVirus Pro 2015 - Fake Anti-Viruses
  3. Stay away from dangerous/problematic websites – If you are unsure of whether a website is harmful or not, chances are you should probably stay away from it.  Luckily most web browsers nowadays warn you before you are about to enter into unknown territory.
  4. Install a pop-up blocker – This will be your first line of defense against these attacks.  Installing a reliable pop-up blocker will prevent some of these threats from even coming your way.
  5. Install an anti-virus software – Finding a good anti-virus software will benefit your tremendously.  Not only will it help you fight these fake anti-virus claims, but also save you from numerous other IT threats.

If you are shopping around for a new legitimate anti-virus software, here are some suggestions:

  1. Kaspersky Total Security – We at PC Easycare use and trust Kaspersky’s enterprise level products. The anti-virus software has been given rave reviews by popular tech sites such as PCMag.com who says, “There are no weak links in the protection offered by Kaspersky Internet Security (2016). All the components do a fine job, making this suite an Editors’ Choice. (PCMag, 2015)” Kaspersky’s Total Security will cover you in areas such as spam filters, parental controls, firewalls and other bonus features.
  2. Norton Security – The recent update from Symantec has really cemented Norton Security as one of the top antivirus software today.  Despite a bit of a confusing interface, Norton Security has useful features such as a start-up manager, disk optimizer, and file cleanup, along with the main features of antivirus security, identity protection and performance management (ComputerWorld).
  3. AVG AntiVirus Free – If you are looking for a free option, AVG AntiVirus Free is your best bet. The software is effective at blocking malware and phishing scams as well as having some resourceful features such as Speedy full scan, Website Rating and Do Not Track (PCMag, 2015).
  4. MacAfee Internet Security 2016 – MacAfee has always been a leader in anti-virus protection. The latest update may not be the company’s best, but still does a decent job in protecting you from threats with an effective malware scanner that does however consume heavy computing power.  Because MacAfee has an unlimited device license, if you have multiple computers that need protecting, MacAfee Internet Security might be your best bet (Tom’s Guide, 2015).


Gralla, Preston. “Review: Norton Security — Simpler and Still a Winner.” Computerworld. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. <http://www.computerworld.com/article/2943600/security/review-norton-security-simpler-and-still-a-winner.html>.

Nadel, Brian. “McAfee Internet Security 2016 Review.” Tom’s Guide. N.p., 17 Nov. 2015. Web. <http://www.tomsguide.com/us/mcafee-internet-security,review-3190.html>.

Nichols, Shaun. “Fake Antivirus Scams: It’s a $120m Business – and Alleged Ringleaders Have Just Been Frozen.” • The Register. 19 Nov. 2014. Web. <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/19/ftc_hits_backers_of_120_meeellion_tech_support_scam/>.

“AVG AntiVirus Free (2016).” PCMAG. N.p., 7 Oct. 2015. Web. <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2471768,00.asp>.

“Kaspersky Internet Security (2016).” PCMAG. N.p., 03 Aug. 2015. Web. <http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2460964,00.asp>.

“Your Computer Is Infected” Fake Anti-virus Pop-up Alert Scams.” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 16 Dec. 2015. Web. <https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/news/your-computer-is-infected-fake-anti-virus-pop-up-alert-scams>.

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