Fake Antivirus Warnings - "ScareWare"

About Fake Antivirus Warnings

Fake antivirus warnings are also known as "ScareWare". Criminals prey upon people's fears in order 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 contact the IS Service Desk or your IT support staff to resolve the issue.

But you can protect yourself before you're affected.

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 IS Service Desk at 541-737-8787 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.

  • Read "How to recognize a Fake Virus Alert Message."
  • Be cautious when installing software from the Internet. Many sites include ads or downloads that are actually malware or scareware.
  • NEVER click advertisements on the Internet.

What If I Do See A Warning?

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

  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 and employees can bring personal laptops to the Service Desk Walkup for malware scans; for university-owned devices, contact your department 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.

Who to Contact

OSU-owned computer - Please contact your IT support staff.

Campus Labs computer - Contact the IS Service Desk.

Personal device - Contact the IS Service Desk.

Self help options for personal computers:

  • Download Malwarebytes. Disconnect from the Internet to run a full scan of Malwarebytes.
  • Run a full scan with the anti-virus program (SophosWindows Defender/Security Essentials, Symantec Endpoint protection, McAffee, AVG, Avast) installed on your computer.
    • The full scan can take several hours to complete properly.


Article ID: 43281
Wed 11/29/17 11:00 AM
Mon 3/12/18 3:10 PM