System Activation KEY Has Expired POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "System Activation KEY Has Expired" virus
Type: Adware
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

System Activation Key Has Expired removal instructions

What is System Activation Key Has Expired?

"System Activation Key Has Expired" is another fake error message similar to Spyware Detected On Your Computer!, Zeus Virus Detected In Your Computer, and many others. It is displayed by various deceptive websites that users often visit inadvertently (they are redirected by potentially unwanted programs [PUPs] or intrusive ads delivered by other malicious sites). Research shows that potentially unwanted programs typically infiltrate systems without consent and, as well as causing redirects, generate intrusive advertisements, gather sensitive information and, sometimes, run unwanted background processes.

System Activation Key Has Expired scam

The error message states that the system is infected, since the activation key has expired and that the infection poses a direct threat to personal data (logins/passwords, banking information, etc.) Therefore, it must be eliminated immediately. To achieve this, users are encouraged to call 'tech support' via a telephone number ("1-877-670-2749") provided and follow the given instructions. Note that the "System Activation Key Has Expired" error is fake. Cyber criminals generate revenue by scaring and tricking users into calling and paying for 'tech support' that is not required - the computer is most probably secure. Therefore, ignore "System Activation Key Has Expired" and never call the aforementioned telephone number. The error can be removed simply by closing the web browser, however, since some rogue sites employ scripts that prevent users from closing browsing tabs/windows, you are advised to terminate the browser using Task Manager, or simply reboot the system. Note that it is very important NOT to restore the previous session next time the browser is opened, otherwise you will reopen the malicious site.

Potentially unwanted programs generate coupon, banner, pop-up, and other similar ads. To achieve this, developers employ various tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site. Therefore, intrusive ads often conceal underlying website content, significantly diminishing the browsing experience. Furthermore, these ads might redirect to malicious websites and even run scripts that stealthily download and install malware. Therefore, even a single click can result in high-risk computer infections. Another downside is information tracking. Potentially unwanted programs gather IP addresses, websites visited, pages viewed, search queries, and other similar data relating to browsing activity. Collected data (IP addresses, URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries, etc.) typically includes personal details that are shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). These people misuse private data to generate revenue. Therefore, the presence of data-tracking app(s) can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft. PUPs also mine cryptocurrencies and run other unwanted processes without permission. By misusing system resources in this way, they significantly diminish the browsing experience.

As mentioned above, "System Activation Key Has Expired" shares many similarities with dozens of other fake errors. All claim that the system is infected, missing files, or damaged in other similar ways, however, these claims are merely attempts to extort money from unsuspecting users. Potentially unwanted programs also share many similarities. By offering "useful features", they attempt to give the impression of legitimacy, however, since all PUPs are designed only to generate revenue for the developers, they are useless for regular users. Rather than delivering any real value, PUPs pose a direct threat to your privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did potentially unwanted programs install on my computer?

Some PUPs have official promotion websites, however, most infiltrate systems without permission, since developers promote them using intrusive advertisements and a deceptive marketing method called "bundling" (stealth installation of third party programs together with regular software/apps). Developers hide "bundled" apps within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Many users are likely to rush these procedures and skip steps. In addition, they often click advertisements without understanding the possible consequences. This behavior typically leads to inadvertent installation of PUPs - they expose their systems to risk of various infections and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

To prevent ransomware infections, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and, especially when downloading/installing software. Developers invest many resources into intrusive ad design, thereby making them appear legitimate. Once clicked, however, they redirect to gambling, adult dating, pornography, and other dubious sites. If you experience these redirects, immediately eliminate all dubious applications and browser plug-ins. Furthermore, carefully analyze each step of the download/installation processes and opt-out of all additionally-included programs. You are also advised to avoid using third party download/installation set-ups, since developers monetize them by promoting PUPs ("bundling" method). Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. The key to computer safety is caution.

Text presented in "System Activation Key Has Expired" pop-up:

Your computer has been locked
Your computer with the IP address might infected by the Trojans - Because System Activation KEY has expired & Your information (for example, passwords, messages, and CCs) have been stolen. Call the Help Desk number 1-877-670-2749 to protect your files and identity from further damage.
'System Activation Error Code: 0x44578' Lock Screen. To immediate rectify issue and prevent data lose Please call Toll free: 1-877-670-2749
WARNING: Hard Drive Safety Delete Starting In 4:58 minutes.
Toll free: 1-877-670-2749

The appearance of "System Activation Key Has Expired" pop-up (GIF):

System Activation Key Has Expired scam gif

Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted programs:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

System Activation Key Has Expired adware uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted program, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.


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"System Activation KEY Has Expired" virus

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Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "system activation key has expired" virus, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, select these entries and click the trash can icon.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the "system activation key has expired" virus, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click "Extensions", in the opened window, remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with "system activation key has expired" virus removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge logoRemove malicious add-ons from Microsoft Edge:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the three horizontal dots icon edge more icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions, right click your mouse on these entries and click "Uninstall".

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

Click the three horizontal dots icon edge more icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), and select Settings.

Resetting Microsoft Edge settings step 1

In the opened tab, click the "Choose what to clear" button.

Resetting Microsoft Edge settings step 2

Click Show more and select everything, and then click the "Clear" button.

Resetting Microsoft Edge settings step 3

  • If this didn't help, please follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove "system activation key has expired" virus from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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