Windows Malware Detected POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "Windows Malware Detected" virus
Damage level: Medium

What is Windows Malware Detected?

"Windows Malware Detected" is another fake error displayed by deceptive websites. Research shows that many users visit these sites inadvertently - they are redirected by potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) or other malicious sites. PUPs typically infiltrate systems without permission, deliver intrusive advertisements, and continually record sensitive data.

Windows Malware Detected scam

This error states that the system has been infected with a certain type of malware that performs suspicious actions. It is also stated that personal details (e.g., logins/passwords) and stored data are at risk. Therefore, users are encouraged to immediately contact "tech support" via a toll-free telephone number ("1-855-341-4034") provided.

Be aware, however, that the "Windows Malware Detected" error is fake and a scam. Cyber criminals (developers) generate revenue by tricking users into calling and paying for tech support that is not required. In this way, they abuse users' trust. Therefore, ignore "Windows Malware Detected".

This pop-up error asks users to enter an administrator login and password, however, do not do this - the information will probably be saved and misused. The "Windows Malware Detected" error can be removed simply by closing the web browser, however, some rogue sites employ scripts that prevent users from closing browsing tabs/windows.

In these cases, end the browser process using Task Manager or simply reboot the system. After re-running the browsers, do not restore the previous session, otherwise you will end up visiting the malicious sites again.

Potentially unwanted programs deliver various intrusive advertisements such as coupons, banners, pop-ups, etc. To achieve this, developers employ tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any visited website. Therefore, delivered ads often conceal underlying content, thereby significantly diminishing the browsing experience.

Furthermore, these advertisements redirect to malicious websites and even execute scripts designed to download and install PUPs (or even malware). Therefore, even a single accidental click can result in high-risk computer infections. PUPs gather various information relating to web browsing activity.

Collected data (IP addresses, URLs visited, pages viewed, queries entered into search engines, keystrokes, etc.) usually includes personal details that developers share with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). These people misuse private data to generate revenue.

The presence of data-tracking apps can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft, and thus all should be uninstalled immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name "Windows Malware Detected" virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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"Windows Malware Detected" shares many similarities with dozens of other fake errors such as Google Chrome Support Centre, Computer Detected To Be Corrupted, and COMPUTER BLOCKED. All falsely claim that the system is damaged (e.g., infected, missing files or similar). The only purpose of these errors is 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, rather than giving any real value for regular users, PUPs pose a direct threat to their privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did potentially unwanted programs install on my computer?

As mentioned above, Windows Malware Detected often infiltrates systems without permission. This is due to the lack of knowledge and careless behavior of many users. Potentially unwanted programs are typically distributed using intrusive advertising and "bundling" (stealth installation of PUPs with regular software) methods.

Developers do not disclose PUP installations properly. Therefore, all are hidden within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes.

Clicking advertisements and skipping download/installation steps often leads to inadvertent installation of rogue programs. In this way, users expose their systems to risk of various infections and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

The key to computer safety is caution. Therefore, to prevent system infiltration by PUPs, be very careful when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing software. Intrusive advertisements typically seem legitimate, but once clicked, redirect to gambling, adult dating, pornography, and other dubious websites.

If you experience these redirects, immediately remove 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.

We also advise you to avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting PUPs ("bundling" method). Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links.

Text presented in "Windows Malware Detected" pop-up:

Microsoft Alert
Someone is Trying to steal your banking details, credit card details & other logins. Please Call Microsoft At 1-855-341-4034 Immediately to prevent data loss. Hard drive safety delete in starting in 2:22
Your Data is at high risk
To immediately rectify issue and prevent data loss Call Toll Free: 1-855-341-4034
scanning complete
The server is asking for your user name and password. The server reports that it is from your network. PLEASE DO NOT SHUT DOWN OR RESTART YOUR COMPUTER, DOING THAT MAY LEAD TO DATA LOSS AND FAILURE OF OPERATING SYSTEM, HENCE NON BOOTABLE SITUATION RESULTING COMPLETE DATA LOSS. CONTACT ADMINISTRATOR DEPARTMENT TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE ON TOLL FREE @ 1-855-341-4034. Suspicious activity detected on your IP address due to harmful virus installed in your computer. Call Toll Free now @ 1-855-341-4034 for any assistance. Your data is at serious risk. There is a small file missing due to same harmful virus Debug malware error, system failure. Please contact technicians to rectify the issue. Please do not open internet browser for your security issue to avoid data corruption on your operating system.

The appearance of "Windows Malware Detected" pop-up (GIF):

Windows Malware Detected scam gif

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How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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