Smart Guard Protection
Written by Tomas Meskauskas
Damage level: High
Smart Guard Protection removal instructions
What is Smart Guard?
Smart Guard Protection is a rogue antivirus program that reports non existent security infections in order to scare PC users into purchasing a 'full version', which supposedly removes 'detected' malware. This program is created by cyber criminals who distribute this fake antivirus program via infected email messages, exploit kits, and malicious websites. After successful infiltration, this bogus software modifies operating system registry entries and configures itself to run automatically on each system startup. Furthermore, Smart Guard Protection blocks execution of installed programs and prevents access to the Task Manager. PC users should be aware that this program is merely an imitation of legitimate antivirus software and none of the security infections detected by this program exist on their computers.
Fake security scans and indications of high-risk malware are employed to scare users into believing that their computers are infected with viruses. Cyber criminals responsible for creating this scam hope that people will fall for their trickery and purchase a license key for this rogue program. Paying for this program is equivalent to sending money to cyber criminals - users will lose their money and their computers will remain infected. If you observe Smart Guard Protection scanning your computer for security infections, do not trust this program - it a scam created by cyber criminals.
Smart Guard Protection originates from a family of rogue antivirus programs called WinWebSec. Previous variants were named Antivirus Security Pro, Attentive Antivirus, and System Care Antivirus. Today, the Internet is crowded with fake antivirus programs, thus, computer users should be express caution when browsing the Internet - avoid downloading files from P2P networks and do not trust online pop-up ads offering download of security programs. The best way to protect your computer from such bogus security scanners is to keep installed programs (Flash, Java, etc.) up-to-date and use legitimate antivirus and anti-spyware programs. PC users who have already paid for the full version of this rogue program should contact their credit card company and dispute the charges, explaining that they have been tricked into buying a fake antivirus program. To remove this bogus program, use the removal instructions provided.
This rogue program also takes webcam images to further scare PC users into believing that this program is genuine:
Warning! Suspicious activity similar to the behaviour of a virus Trojan:Win32/Tobfy has been detected in application csrss.exe This application made the following shot with your webcam and is attempting to send it to unidentified users. The virus family Trojan:Win32/Tobfy may attempt to steal other personal data, such as credit card information, personal photos and e-mail for the purpose of blackmailing, fraudulent actions and creating fake profile of different websites. The express version of Smart Guard Protection is unable to block the malicious activity of this application. We strongly recommend that you activate the full version of Smart Guard Protection to avoid having your personal data stolen and used by third parties.
At time of research, we noticed no unusual network traffic. Smart Guard Protection does not send photos taken to any third parties. This webcam image is simply used to further scare PC users into believing that their computers are infected with high-risk malware.
Fake security warning pop-ups generated by Smart Guard Protection:
Unless Smart Guard Protection is activated, some of the current critical threats will not be eliminated and your computer will remain unprotected.
Suspicious activity detected in the application firefox.exe similar to the behaviour of the virus Win32/Conflicker.X. For your security and to avoid loss of data, the operation of application firefox.exe has been temporarily restricted. To restore the application's full operation, you must use the full edition of Smart Guard Protection.
- What is Smart Guard?
- STEP 1. Remove Smart Guard using removal software.
- STEP 2. Remove Smart Guard using Safe Mode with Networking.
- STEP 3. Remove Smart Guard using a retrieved activation key.
Smart Guard Protection removal:
Smart Guard Protection generates fake security warning messages when users try accessing Internet using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. To remove this rogue antivirus program from your computer, download recommended malware removal software. If your Internet browsers are blocked by the "Warning! The site you are trying to visit may harm your computer! Your security setting level puts your computer at risk!" message, click "Ignore warnings and visit that site in the current state (not recommended)" and download the recommended anti-spyware software to eliminate this rogue program.
If you cannot run the anti-spyware software, download an alternate installer (it is renamed to iexplore.exe, since most of fake antivirus programs do not block execution of files with this name).
Optional method to download the recommended anti-spyware program:
If you cannot access your Internet browsers: Click Start then click Run. (Click Windows logo in Windows 7 and Windows Vista)
In Windows XP, When the Run dialogue appears enter this text: www.pcrisk.com/download-spyware-remover and then press ENTER. In Windows, 7 and Windows Vista, type this line directly into the search field, and then press ENTER.
After pressing enter, the File download dialogue of recommended malware removal software appears. Click Run and follow the on-screen instructions.
If you are still unable to download the recommended malware removal software - Before downloading, enter a retrieved activation key in the activation window of Smart Guard Protection. Click the "Buy full edition" button at the bottom of the main window of this fake antivirus software and enter this key:
Notice that entering this activation key will not remove Smart Guard Protection - it simply makes the removal process less complicated.
Smart Guard Protection removal using Safe Mode with Networking:
1. Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer starting process press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.
Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click on Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window select Advanced startup. Click on "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into "Advanced Startup options menu". Click on the "Troubleshoot" button, then click on the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen click on "Startup settings". Click on the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.
Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
2. Smart Guard Protection modifies the system Hosts file. The Hosts file is used to resolve canonical names of websites to IP addresses. When it is changed, the user may be redirected to malicious sites, despite seeing legitimate URLs in address bar. It is difficult to determine sites are genuine when the Hosts file is modified. To fix this, please download the Microsoft Fix It tool, that restores your Hosts file to the Windows default. Run this tool when downloaded and follow the on-screen instructions. Download link below:
3. Download and install recommended malware removal software to completely remove this fake antivirus program from your PC.
NOTE: Rogue antivirus programs can block the download of anti-spyware software, thus, if you cannot download it from the default location, try one of the alternative download locations below:
- Location 1 (the file is renamed to "iexplore.exe", since most spyware does not block this file)
- Location 2
Smart Guard Protection removal using a retrieved activation key:
1. Wait until this rogue antivirus completes the fake security scan and click the "Remove Threats" button. You can also click the "Buy full edition" button at the bottom right corner of the main window of this rogue program.
In the opened window, click on the "I, already have activation key" button.
2. In the opened window, enter this retrieved registry key: AA39754E-216A8FF3 This will trick Smart Guard Protection into believing that you have already paid for the full version. This step makes the removal process of this rogue antivirus program less complicated. After entering this registry key, Smart Guard Protection allows execution of installed software (including Internet browsers) and you are then able to download anti-spyware software without interruptions.
3. After entering this license key, Smart Guard Protection generates a few messages congratulating you for successful registration and then imitates the removal process of the earlier 'detected' malware and viruses.
4. Note that entering this retrieved activation key does not remove this fake antivirus program from your computer - it simply makes the removal process less complicated. To completely remove this rogue antivirus program from your computer, download and install recommended malware removal software.
Other tools, known to remove Smart Guard Protection:
The fake antivirus programs (also known as "rogue antivirus programs" or "scareware") are applications that tries to lure computer users into paying for their non-existent full versions to remove the supposedly detected security infections (although the computer is actually clean). These bogus programs are created by cyber criminals who design them to look as legitimate antivirus software. Most commonly rogue antivirus programs infiltrate user's computer using poop-up windows or alerts which appear when users surf the Internet. These deceptive messages trick users into downloading a rogue antivirus program on their computers. Other known tactics used to spread scareware include exploit kits, infected email messages, online ad networks, drive-by downloads, or even direct calls to user's offering free support.
A computer that is infected with a fake antivirus program might also have other malware installed on it as rogue antivirus programs often are bundled with Trojans and exploit kits. Noteworthy that additional malware that infiltrates user's operating system remains on victim's computer regardless of whether a payment for a non-existent full version of a fake antivirus program is made. Here are some examples of fake security warning messages that are used in Smart Guard Protection distribution:
Computer users who are dealing with a rogue security software shouldn't buy it's full version. By paying for a license key of a fake antivirus program users would send their money and banking information to cyber criminals. Users who have already entered their credit card number (or other sensitive information) when asked by such bogus software should inform their credit card company that they have been tricked into buying a rogue security software. Screenshot of a web page used to lure computer users into paying for a non-existent full version of Smart Guard Protection and other rogue antivirus programs:
To protect your computer from Smart Guard Protection and other rogue antivirus programs users should:
- Keep their operating system and all of the installed programs up-to-date.
- Use legitimate antivirus and anti-spyware programs.
- Use caution when clicking on links in social networking websites and email messages.
- Don't trust online pop-up messages which state that your computer is infected and offers you to download security software.
Symptoms indicating that your operating system is infected with a fake antivirus program:
- Intrusive security warning pop-up messages.
- Alerts asking to upgrade to a paid version of a program to remove the supposedly detected malware.
- Slow computer performance.
- Disabled Windows updates.
- Blocked Task Manager.
- Blocked Internet browsers or inability to visit legitimate antivirus vendor websites.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove Smart Guard Protection from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware removal forum.
If you have additional information on Smart Guard Protection or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.