Most of us have come across a ‘Windows Security Alert’ while surfing the Internet. Is this something you should be worried about? This Techspirited article endeavors to shed light on this topic, and details methods to prevent this alert message from showing.
Did You Know?
The Fake Windows Security Alert Virus is what Microsoft classifies as a scareware. This is because, it involves a hacker tactfully scaring users by convincing them that their PC is infected, and getting them to download viruses disguised as fake antivirus software to fix the non-existent problem.
Unlike the hacker portrayed in the 2003 movie ‘The Core’, I don’t speak digital. I may be conversant with a few different tongues, but definitely ‘10100…..’ isn’t one of them! So when this fictional hacker claims in the movie, that using his knowledge of the digital dialect, he can steal a person’s money, his secrets, his fantasies, and indeed his whole life, I get really scared, and for good reason!
Hacking, in real life, is a truly frightening prospect, especially for the ones on the receiving end. Most of us have a lot of our personal and private stuff stacked away on our computers (it isn’t called a ‘personal’ computer just for the heck of it!). Hence, it becomes imperative that we protect our PC against all the potential hackers out there, and for that, we need to become a little more tech-savvy and keep our knowledge updated.
In the following few lines, we shall take a look at one of the most common tools that a lot hackers use to hack into someone’s personal computer – The Fake Windows Security Alert Virus. We shall also discuss how to get rid of it for good.
What is Windows Security Alert Virus?
Well, for starters, it isn’t really a virus! It is actually a fake pop-up message that is triggered when you visit an infected website. It appears as a genuine system alert, complete with a graphical representation of an actual virus scan along with several statistics showing the number of infected files on your PC, and the names of the viruses supposedly infecting it.
In actuality though, these scans aren’t real, and the statistics are all fake. However, the pop-up is designed to very closely mimic an actual Windows Security Alert, and most casual users are easily fooled by it. The alert usually includes a link to download certain ‘free’ security software to remove the viruses allegedly infecting your PC. If you happen to click on this link, then several malware, including Trojan Horse, and other malicious software will gain access to your PC, and the hacking process shall begin.
How to Get Rid of it
If you have indeed clicked on such a link, and have downloaded a malicious software on your PC, then you must take steps at once to get rid of it. The following is a brief, but effective procedure to get rid of the Windows Security Alert virus, and to fix your infected PC.
Infections can range from low, medium, to heavy. In case your PC is heavily infected, you will need to follow the manual removal procedure. The following are the steps that you will need to take.
Step 1: Restart your PC in Safe-Mode with Networking. This can be done by repeatedly pressing the F8 key when your computer restarts. Doing this will take you into Advanced Boot Options menu from where you can select Safe-Mode with Networking using the arrow keys. The safe-mode is a specially designed diagnostic mode which restricts all other activities on the computer, except the core functionalities. It is most suitable for removal of malicious-ware.
Step 2: Download your favorite anti-malware software utility. If you have never used one, a quick search on Google should bring up some good results and options to choose from. A popular one is the Malwarebytes anti-malware software. It is a free-to-download utility, and works well to remove malware from your PC.
Note: It is possible that sometimes, the heavy infection will prevent you from installing any anti-malware software. In such cases, before downloading, rename the file to iexplorer.exe, firefox.exe, or winlogon.exe, to fool the malware infections into letting you install the removal software.
Step 3: After downloading the anti-malware utility, install it and run a full-system scan. Once the scan is complete, bring up the list of infections and select all in it by checking each of the boxes, and then click on Remove Selected. This should remove all the malicious-ware from your PC.
Step 4: Finally, restart your PC, and don’t press F8 this time. This will get your PC to start in the normal mode. Monitor its performance to make sure all the infections have been cleaned.
For low to medium infections, you can skip going into the safe mode, directly download and install a good anti-malware software, and have it scan your PC to get rid of any infections.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
The above method should completely rid your PC of the so-called Windows Security Alert virus. However, there are certain measures that you should take to ensure that your PC isn’t infected again.
1) Keep Your Windows Updated: Microsoft releases updates periodically for genuine Windows users. To enable updates on your Windows PC from your Desktop, go to Start–> Control Panel–> Security–> Turn automatic updating on or off. There, select the ‘Install updates automatically (recommended)’. This will allow Windows to update automatically whenever updates are available online. Doing this will automatically remove the malicious software from your PC every time the OS is updated.
2) Use a Good Antivirus Software: Most good antivirus software come equipped with malware removal tools as well as pop-up blockers. They even include firewalls which restrict the installation of untrusted software on your PC.
3) Use P2P Carefully: Peer to peer or P2P is a file sharing mechanism where a number of users can share files between them. Though P2P software is a safe and efficient way of file sharing, if the source of the file is unknown, it can be dangerous. Many hackers upload viruses disguised as genuine files on the P2P network. Downloading and opening such files can result in your PC getting infected. An example of P2P is torrents.
4) Get a Better Browser: Microsoft’s stock browser, the Internet Explorer, is less secure than Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Thus, it is a better option to use one of these.
5) Constant Vigilance: No matter how much care you take, hackers will always come up with ways to outwit you and the system. So, it is important that we don’t surf the net mindlessly, clicking on everything that we see on our browsers. Being constantly vigilant will help us keep ourselves and our data protected.
Thus, in a few easy steps, we can get rid of the Windows Security Alert virus. Also, by being careful while browsing the Internet, we can reduce the chances of getting our PC infected, and prevent our personal content from being hacked into. So be vigilant, and be safe!