Stop your browser from opening the"HARDDISK_ROOT KIT_TROJAN_HIJACK.EXE" scam

Damage level: Medium


"HARDDISK_ROOT KIT_TROJAN_HIJACK.EXE" is a tech-support scam that displays a fake virus alert and encourages users to contact "technical support" by calling the telephone number provided. Criminals use these scam pages to generate revenue by tricking people into paying for software or services.

These sites are often opened by potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) installed on the system. Do not trust these websites - simply ignore them.


This scam is displayed on a web page disguised as an official Microsoft site, however, this company has nothing to do with it. According to information on the site, the user's computer is blocked, since the web page has detected a virus ("HARDDISK_ROOT KIT_TROJAN_HIJACK.EXE") that caused the "o0acxfasf" error.

It is also stated that the user's Windows registration key is illegal, and that the operating system is hacked and is proliferating viruses over the Internet. To "reactivate" their computers, users are encouraged to contact a "Microsoft helpline" by calling the "+1(888)759-7475" telephone number.

This scam also shows a pop-up window disguised as a notification from "SmartScreen". According to this pop-up, Windows SmartScreen has prevented an unrecognized app ["windows10manager (1).exe"] from starting and that this might put the computer at risk. It also encourages users to call "technical support" via the number provided.

Remember, this is a scam that often tricks people into believing that their computers are infected or at risk. People who contact scammers via the telephone number are encouraged to remove viruses or fix other problems with paid software or using online services. Websites of this type should not be trusted.

If the site cannot be closed normally, end the browser process through Task Manager. Note that restoring the previously-closed session will reopen the same scam page. When this scam is opened in full-screen mode, it can be exited by pressing the "Esc" key.

In many cases, scam web pages (and other untrustworthy sites) are opened by potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) installed on the browser or operating system. In addition to unwanted redirects, PUAs usually gather details relating to users' browsing habits and display deceptive, dubious advertisements.

PUAs also collect users' IP addresses, geolocations, URLs of visited sites, entered search queries, etc. Developers share this data with other parties (possibly, cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue. Furthermore, PUAs often display ads (coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups, etc.) that lead to dubious web pages or even unwanted downloads/installations.

Threat Summary:
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim According to this scam, the computer is infected with a virus that causes system errors.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1(888)759-7475
Related Domain securitywarning.s3-website.us-east-2.amazonaws[.]com
Detection Names (securitywarning.s3-website.us-east-2.amazonaws[.]com) Avira (Phishing), CLEAN MX (Malicious), CyRadar (Malicious), Kaspersky (Phishing), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address (securitywarning.s3-website.us-east-2.amazonaws[.]com)
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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The Internet is full scam sites. Some other examples include "Windows Antivirus - Critical Alert", "Hard Drive Safety Delete", and "Virus Support Alert". 

None of these should be trusted. Often, they promote dubious applications or encourage visitors to call numbers that lead to scammers. PUAs that open these pages are usually advertised as legitimate, useful applications, however, they cause a number of problems (issues with privacy, browsing safety, and so on) and deliver none of the advertised features.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

In some cases, potentially unwanted applications can be downloaded from their (supposedly official) websites, however, most are promoted and distributed via a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". Developers use this to trick people into installing PUAs with other, regular software.

They hide PUAs in "Custom", "Advanced" or other similar settings of the software download/installation set-ups.

In most cases, these PUAs are downloaded and installed when users download/install their chosen software without checking the settings. In other cases, it happens when they click dubious ads that run scripts designed to cause download and installation of potentially unwanted applications.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Use official and trustworthy websites or other sources to download software. Third party downloaders/installers, dubious web pages, Peer-to-Peer networks, and other similar sources should not be trusted. These channels are often monetized by promoting PUAs or other, potentially malicious and rogue apps.

Install software with care - do not complete any setup steps without checking "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings. Opt-out of offers to download or install potentially unwanted apps, and only then finish downloading or installing software. Do not click dubious ads, especially if displayed on dubious unofficial web pages.

These ads can redirect to untrustworthy or potentially malicious websites (such as gambling, adult dating, pornography etc.). If unwanted redirects or ads occur regularly, check your browser for any unwanted/dubious extensions, plug-ins, or add-ons, and remove them immediately.

The same applies to the programs of this type installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.


Why we blocked your computer?
The window's registration key is illegal. Windows Defender Time Out Error Code 0x214aL
Microsoft in order to receive immediate support and assistance with windows defender software
This window is using pirated software.
This window is sending virus over the internet
This window is hacked or used from undefined location
We block this computer for your security
Contact microsoft helpline to reactivate your computer.

Microsoft Security ERROR: Windows or a kernel-mode driver accessed page memory at DISPATCH_LEVEL or above.
BSOD error code 0x0000000A may also show "IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL" to the same blue screen.

Screenshot of a pop-up that appears after clicking the "Back to Safety" button":


Text presented in this window:

Windows protected your PC
Windows SmartScreen prevented an unrecognised app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk. For technical support call on +1(888)759-7475
Publisher: Unknown Publisher
App: windows10manager(1).exe

The appearance of "HARDDISK_ROOT KIT_TROJAN_HIJACK.EXE" pop-up (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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