Fake Virus Alerts: Three Free and Easy Ways to Defeat Them

Last Updated Feb 14, 2011 5:48 PM EST


One of the best tools in a hacker's arsenal is the fake virus alert. It pops up on your screen looking totally legitimate (and alarming), so you click on it and fork over your credit card number to remove the "infection" (which, as it happens, was the fake alert itself). Identify theft, 1; you, 0.

Or, if you're smart enough to recognize the fakery, you ignore the alert -- but can't get rid of it because by the time it's there, your PC is already infected. Now what?

The How-To Geek recommends surprisingly easy ways to combat fake virus alerts. The first is simply to move the "error" dialog box that appears when you try to run your anti-malware program, then try again. Sounds crazy, but there's anecdotal evidence it works at least some of the time.

Second, try renaming your anti-malware program to explorer.exe -- which is the one program that most viruses will allow to run.

Third, and this is what has saved me and several people I know, use the awesome SUPERAntiSpyware to eradicate fake alerts. If that doesn't work, another Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is another excellent malware fighter. Both programs can run from a flash drive, which is very handy. What's so surprising about these two tools? They're both free.

What's your preferred method for warding off those fake pop-ups? Use Linux/Mac instead of Windows? Lock down your PCs with commercial-grade security software? Share your thoughts in the comments -- and share this post with your employees! In the meantime, be sure to check out last week's roundup: 10 Anti-Virus Programs Reviewed: Which One is Best for Your Biz?
More on BNET:
  • Rick Broida On Twitter»

    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.

Comments

Market Data

Market News

Stock Watchlist