Computer owners around the world, from grandmas who play digital Solitaire to even the savviest of tech users, are falling victim to a new scam campaign involving fake Microsoft security alerts.
A popup suddenly appears on the victim’s device saying that the computer contains a virus and that they need to call tech support.
The web browser then gets redirected to a site displaying a “Microsoft Security Alert” message, along with the contact numbers users can reach out to in order to fix the problem.
It’s possible you are among the thousands of cases that have experienced this Microsoft security alert scam campaign. Beware, in all probability, that there could be an adware program installed on your device. It’s nothing but a tech support scam.
These kinds of security alert notifications are just a scam. Microsoft is not in the habit of sending such messages and asking users to make phone calls for fixing their computers. You must treat such pop ups with the greatest of skepticism. In addition, never offer any personal information to such notifications.
Offering Unsolicited Support
The security alert scam appears in a way that the user thinks their computer is crashing or that it has been infected with a virus. The user then panics and calls the number offered in order to receive support.
What will happen is that the user directly contacts people who wish to sell them unsolicited support contracts or services. Some scammers even try to get remote access to the user’s computer and get them to pay for such support services. In the process, the scammers are given the opportunity to steal sensitive information like credit card details.
The text appearing in such security alert scam popups will ask users to call the Windows Help Desk and state that their data, such as passwords, browser history or credit card information, is being compromised.
Removing Security Alert Scam Adware
Here are the steps for removing such adware quite easily. Normally, it will suffice if you just close your device browser and then restart it. However, if you are seeing the security alert scam message too often, you have to check out the adware in your computer and eliminate it.
Step 1: Printing the Instructions
You will need some tools to perform this removal of adware from your computer. In the process, you might be required to reboot the system or close the browser, so it is important that you print out these instructions prior to beginning.
Step 2: Close the Browser to Halt the Security Alert Scam
If you’re not able to close your online browsing program in the regular way, use the Task Manager.
- Right click on the taskbar and then click on the Start Task manager.
- You can also click on Ctrl, Alt and Del simultaneously or just click on Ctrl, Shift and Esc simultaneously and then on Task Manager.
- Scroll and identify the web browser. Left click on the program and highlight it. Next, click on End Task seen at the bottom.
- When you reopen the browser, don’t opt for reopening the last page opened.
Step 3: Use AdwCleaner
AdwCleaner is useful for removing adware. It can clean the computer of malware or any other program that you want to remove, both smoothly and efficiently.
It is also available as a free tool, capable of removing PUP/LPI (Potentially Undesirable Program) Toolbars as well as Hijacker programs, which takes over the homepage of a browser.
The AdwCleaner program is a part of a family of tools developed by the cyber security product firm Malwarebytes. Here’s how to use it:
- Download the AdwCleaner program on your computer.
- Double click on it to scan the system using the program.
- Allow the Malwarebytes AdwCleaner to Run.
- Click on Scan, on viewing the program.
- If there are any malicious files, the AdwCleaner will detect them.
- Click on Clean.
- You may have to save any files that you have opened, as the system has to reboot for cleaning it. Click on OK.
Step 4: Use Malwarebytes for Windows
This is the perfect solution for catching the latest and more advanced dangers like adware on your computer.
- Download the Malwarebytes for Windows program and install it on your computer to remove the security alert scam.
- A pop up will appear asking for permission to make changes on your device. Click on the Yes option and continue installing.
- After the installation is complete, start a scan of your computer with the Scan Now option.
- After the scanning is complete, you can view a list of the detected infections.
- Click on Quarantine Selected to remove these.
Step 5: Using HitmanPro
HitmanPro is also an effective program for dealing with the Microsoft security alert scam campaign. You can even opt for a 30-day free trial to do this.
The HitmanPro software is developed by U.K.-based IT security company Sophos.
- Download the HitmanPro program and install it on your computer.
- If a pop up appears asking you if you want the app to make changes to your device, you can click on Yes.
- Continue the scanning process by clicking on Next to remove the security alert scam.
Step 6: Reset to Default
If you have followed the above steps for removing the Microsoft security alert scam and you still have problems, you may have to reset the computer browser to the default setting. However, you should note that you will lose any bookmarks or passwords that you have saved in the program.
Here’s how to reset it to the default settings:
- Access the main menu of Chrome denoted by the three lines and click on Settings.
- Move to Advanced Settings.
- Click on Reset Browser setting to remove the adware.
- Go through the list of components that will be reset and then click on Reset.
- This should clear your computer of the security alert scam and adware.
In order to prevent your computer from being infiltrated by such PUPs like the Microsoft security alert scam in the future, you must be careful while browsing the internet—especially when you are downloading any software and installing it on your device.
Most of the malicious programs and ads circling the internet today—including this security alert scam—appear very legitimate, even to more experienced online users.
But many of them lead to revenue-generating websites that will compromise the security of your device so that the developer of the adware can gain more cash from the ads.
Do not use third-party tools for downloading or installing programs, as many of them use the bundling method for promoting such unwanted software.
When you’re combating the effects of the Microsoft security alert scam, you can also install two antimalware programs on your computer at the same time. Both Malwarebytes and AdwCleaner are lightweight. Additionally, they are both very easy to run on your machine. They can work well alongside an antivirus program for your system, as well.
Both of these can be used when you get a false pop up message on your computer stating a Microsoft warning alert. The problem arises from malicious websites that a user might have visited unknowingly. These malicious programs, or PUPs, get redirected to the user’s computer and infiltrate the systems. They have to be eliminated at the earliest possible instance or else your personal information, such as credit card details, logins, passwords and so on, is at risk.