Fake AntiVirus Warnings

This article pertains to the "Internet Security 2012" alert and other fake antivirus warnings. Please continue reading for information on protecting yourself.

Examples of Fake Warnings

Here are two screenshots of fake warnings. Click an image to view at full size.

If you see a popup like one shown here, your computer may already be infected. Shut it down and take it to the OSU Computer Helpdesk or your IT support staff to resolve the issue.

fake security warning

fake antivirus example

About Fake AntiVirus Warnings

Bad guys prey upon people's fears to steal their money and information. One of their favorite tricks is to tell people that their computer is (or might be) infected, and they are relying on you to respond in a manner that installs a virus on your computer.

In some cases, your computer may already be infected before you see the popup. The safest thing to is shut it down and take it to the OSU Computer Helpdesk or your IT support staff to resolve the issue.

But you can protect yourself before you're affected.

Protect Yourself Before You're Affected

There are three big ways to protect yourself before you're affected.

  1. Download free antivirus software, and keep it up to date (free for home use, too).
  2. Enable your web browser's phishing protection settings, usually found under "Tools" or "Preferences" or "Settings." Call the OSU Computer Helpdesk at 541-737-3474 if you're not sure how to do this.
  3. Get to know the look of pop up messages from your current AV software. If you know what you are looking for, you are much harder to fool. Take note of the name and icon of your anti-virus software and click on pop ups that only come from that program.

There are a few additional steps you can take.

What If I Do See A Warning?

A few things to check for if you are unsure about the message are:

  1. Close and quit the web browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) immediately. Do NOT click on OK or cancel. Even a button that says "close" can be deceiving.
  2. Does closing your internet browser make the virus alert go away? Often the pop up window is really embedded on an internet page so if you close your browser it will go away. Alerts like this should always be avoided.

If you think you may have accidentally clicked on a fake antivirus warning, shut down your computer. Students can bring laptops to the Walkup Helpdesk for malware scans, while faculty and staff should contact their IT support staff.

What Happens If My Computer Gets Infected?

The viruses that get installed can:

  • Trick you into entering your credit card information or passwords or personal information.
  • Steal your bank account information and empty out your account.
  • Send spam messages from your email address.
  • Corrupt or destroy your documents.
  • Allow other, stronger infections into your computer.
  • Crash your computer or slow it to a crawl.
  • Infect other computers both on the Internet and on a local network.
  • Prompt you for payment to remove the "infection." One version of this malware made headlines in a tech magazine, Computerworld.

Who to Contact

OSU work computer - Please contact your IT support staff.

OSU Students - Contact the OSU Computer Helpdesk.

Self help options for personal computers

Click HERE to watch the tutorial about running a virus scan with Malwarebytes.