How to avoid tech support scams like WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE scam?

Also Known As: WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE pop-up
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE removal instructions

What is WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE?

There are many technical support scam websites pretending to be official Microsoft (or other company) websites and claiming that a computer is blocked, infected or there is some other problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. It is common that such pages display some pop-up window (or multiple windows) instructing the potential victim to call the provided number for technical support. Once contacted, scammers usually instruct users to download and install some remote access software/give them a remote access to a computer, or pay money for some unnecessary software, or technical services.

WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE scam

This particular technical support scam website displays a fake error, warning messages saying that Windows has been blocked due to suspicious activity and data like passwords, browsing history, sensitive information like credit card details, and files on the hard drive may be stolen. The main purpose of this website is to trick visitors into believing that they need to call the +1-888-357-5053 number to prevent further damage. It is likely that scammers behind this page would ask to give them remote access to a computer, sell unnecessary software or repair services, ask for personal information (like credit card details). It is important to know that by having a remote access to a computer scammers could access all information stored on it, or even install some malware on it (e.g., ransomware, Trojan-type malware, cryptomining malware).

Threat Summary:
Name WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Windows has been blocked due to suspicious activity
Disguise Microsoft website
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-357-5053
Related Domain tastykitchenrecipes[.]site
Detection Names (tastykitchenrecipes[.]site) CyRadar (Malicious), ESET (Phishing), Google Safebrowsing (Phishing), Netcraft (Malicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address 172.67.182.40
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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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As mentioned in the first paragraph, there are many various technical support scam websites, some more examples are "ERROR #DW6BD36", "Error # WINDOWS-PORN-91" and "Killer's IP Address". Regardless of the tactics that scammers behind such pages use, they have one purpose - to make money. Typically, users do not visit such pages intentionally. One of the reasons why such pages get opened by a browser is because there is some potentially unwanted application (PUA) installed on it (or the operating system).

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

In most cases users download and/or install potentially unwanted applications unknowingly - when developers distribute them by using a "bundling" method. More precisely, when PUAs distributed by including them in download and/or installation setups of other programs as extra offers. As a rule, unwanted offers can be declined via "Custom", "Advanced", or other settings, or by unticking certian checkboxes before finishing downloads and/or installations. Although, quite often users download and/or install programs without checking and changing the aforementioned settings. In some cases users cause unwanted downloads and/or installations via deceptive advertisements - by clicking ads that are designed to execute certain scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Programs and files should not be downloaded from shady, unofficial pages, via Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, and so on, or  installed with third party installers. That should be done by using official websites and direct links. Furthermore, downloads and installations should not be finished without declining offers to download and/or install additionally included, unwanted apps. Ads on questionable web pages should not be trusted (clicked) as well. It is common that those ads open other websites of this kind or even cause unwanted downloads, installations. Unwanted extensions, plug-ins or add-ons that are installed on a browser and programs of this kind that are installed the operating system should be uninstalled. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of the WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE scam page (GIF):

Appearance of WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE scam

Text in a pop-up window:

Contact-Windows-Support: +1-888-357-5053
Please call us: +1-888-357-5053
Program     Defender.exe
Verified Publisher:     Windows-Defender
 
Necessary measures:     Contact us immediately so that our technicians can guide you through the process of removing the Phone can lead. Please call us within 5 minutes to prevent Your Computer will be disabled.
Quick Help
Go Back Safety
Prevent additional dialogs.
+1-888-357-5053

Text in the background:

** WARNING-CRITICAL-MESSAGE**
Error # MSWindows-77X1
Contact-Windows-Support: +1-888-357-5053 :
Do not ignore this important warning
Windows was blocked due to suspicious activity. Please call us within 5 Minutes to prevent your Computer from being deactivated. The following information may be lost:

1. Passwords
2.  Browsing History     
3. Sensitive information (credit cards)
4.  Files  on the  hard drive  

Do not ignore this critical warning  if you close this page, your Computer access disabled to prevent further damage to our network  .
Contact-Windows-Support:     
+1-888-357-5053

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

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.

PUAs 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 application, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

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

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 and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the warning critical message pop-up, 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 plugins 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 on "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 warning critical message pop-up 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 (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the warning critical message pop-up, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

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 warning critical message pop-up, 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

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 warning critical message pop-up from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE pop-up QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of WARNING CRITICAL MESSAGE pop-up on your mobile device.
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