Fake Antivirus Message: Don’t Fall for the Scareware Trap


Have you ever come across a sudden pop-up on your computer screen, warning you about a supposedly devastating virus infection?

These pesky messages, known as fake antivirus alerts, are a form of scareware designed to trick you into taking immediate action.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of fake virus warnings, uncover their tactics, and provide you with essential tips to stay safe. So, buckle up and let’s navigate the treacherous waters of the digital realm together!

How to Spot Fake Virus Alerts

A fake virus alert, also referred to as fake virus software or rogue antivirus, disguises itself as genuine antivirus software but operates with malicious intent.

It employs deceptive techniques, such as running sham scans on your computer and bombarding you with fabricated virus warnings.

These scare tactics aim to instill fear and panic, leading you to make impulsive decisions that could potentially compromise your device’s security.

The Art of Deception: Signs of Fake Viruses

Spotting a fake virus alert can be challenging, but with a little know-how, you can avoid falling into their trap. Trust your instincts and keep an eye out for the following telltale signs:

  1. Fake-sounding products: Fake virus warnings often peddle obviously counterfeit products. By familiarizing yourself with reputable antivirus software, you can easily identify these impostors.
  2. High-frequency alerts: Beware of sudden barrages of virus warnings. Adware commonly employs this tactic to make you anxious enough to download their fake products.
  3. Bad grammar: Legitimate companies take pride in their messaging and communication. In contrast, scams for fake virus software are often littered with grammatical errors.
  4. Many viruses detected: Fake virus pop-ups lack subtlety. If you receive alerts claiming numerous malware infections on your computer, it’s likely a ploy to induce panic.
  5. Instant requests for money: A fake virus pop-up may brazenly ask for payment right away. While legitimate antivirus solutions might have paid versions, they won’t charge you for individual threat removal.
  6. Vague wording: Suspicion arises when promises or product descriptions are unclear. A reputable antivirus solution will employ clear language to describe its product and features.
  7. Slow devices: Some fake virus alerts launch new windows hidden behind your browser window. If your device suddenly slows down or you hear your computer fans working overtime, make sure no unexpected windows have appeared.
  8. Prevention of legitimate antivirus installation: More malicious fake viruses go the extra mile by blocking the installation of legitimate antivirus products. This obstruction is a glaring red flag.

While blocking all pop-ups may seem tempting, remember that certain websites and features rely on them. Instead, learn how to manage and allow or block pop-ups on popular browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge or IE.

Decoding the Threat: Examples of Fake Virus Alerts

Let’s explore some common examples of fake virus alerts to sharpen our awareness and protect ourselves from these deceptive schemes:


Malvertising occurs when legitimate advertising networks unwittingly display malicious ads on trusted websites. These ads frequently claim that your device is infected with a virus, enticing you to purchase ineffective solutions.

When confronted with random notifications about malware infections, it’s best to ignore them and remain vigilant.

Fake Versions of Real Ads

Counterfeit ads from legitimate companies can be highly deceptive. Fake virus alerts convincingly mimic genuine notifications, but you can identify them by their exaggerated, fear-inducing language or unbelievably enticing deals.

A notorious example is the “Microsoft pornographic virus alert” which locks your device and prompts you to call a tech support scam. Beware of such tricks and never fall for their ruse!

System Tray Notifications

Although relatively rare, system tray notifications are particularly dangerous due to their convincing appearance. These notifications emerge in your system tray, urgently warning you of an infection that demands immediate attention.

Before engaging with any notification, scrutinize its authenticity. Fake system tray notifications rely on emotionally charged language to scare and manipulate you.

Look for visual inconsistencies such as mismatched fonts or formatting issues that could give them away.

Handling a Fake Virus Warning

If you come across a suspicious fake virus warning, follow these steps to safeguard your digital well-being:

  1. Verify the alert’s authenticity: Before jumping to conclusions, ensure that the warning is indeed fake. Use a trusted malware and virus removal tool to scan your computer or phone for real infections.
  2. Avoid clicking on the pop-up: Scareware preys on your emotions, urging you to act swiftly and install harmful software. Resist the temptation and refrain from clicking on the pop-up. Be cautious even with “X” buttons, as fake virus pop-ups may employ phony close buttons that can introduce actual malware onto your device.
  3. Research the product name: When in doubt, conduct a search for the product name displayed in the warning. If you can’t find any reputable information online or encounter negative reviews, chances are it’s a fake.
  4. Close your browser: To get rid of the fake virus alert, close your browser completely. Avoid clicking the “X” on a fake pop-up, as this might trigger unwanted consequences. To close your browser, either open the Task Manager using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc or right-click the browser icon in the taskbar and select “Close all windows.”
  5. Run an antivirus scan: Fake virus pop-ups can expose your device to real malware threats. Perform a comprehensive scan using a legitimate antivirus program to detect and eliminate any potential threats.

If you suspect your device is infected, consult our guides on removing computer viruses or getting rid of viruses on your phone.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the distinctions between viruses and malware, as well as the techniques employed by notorious hackers of today.

Stay Protected with AVG AntiVirus FREE

Remember, even if a fake virus alert turns out to be harmless this time, the next encounter could potentially lead to a genuine malware infection.

Protect all your devices proactively with AVG AntiVirus FREE, a dedicated antivirus tool designed to keep you safe. Our award-winning software provides real-time threat detection against scareware, dangerous websites, and vulnerable online networks.

Equipped with six layers of protection against a wide array of malware threats, AVG AntiVirus FREE ensures your digital security. With an email shield, it keeps you away from dangerous email attachments and phishing links. Install AVG today and bid farewell to the menace of phony virus warnings forever!


In conclusion, fake virus alerts are a common ploy employed by cybercriminals to exploit your emotions and compromise your device’s security. By staying informed and adopting proactive measures, you can shield yourself from their deceptive tactics.

Remember to trust your instincts, remain vigilant, and arm yourself with reliable antivirus software. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and navigate the digital landscape with confidence!