What is the "Important Defender update available" scam?
"Important Defender update available" is a fake message displayed by untrustworthy websites. This scam claims that users need to update their Windows Defender anti-virus software. It must be emphasized that this scheme is in no way associated with the Microsoft Corporation - Windows product developers.
The "Important Defender update available" scam has been observed promoting dubious/malicious applications through the legitimate Microsoft installation setup. However, it is not unlikely that this scheme may proliferate different content via other installers.
Scams of this type are typically used to endorse fake anti-virus tools, adware, browser hijackers, and other PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). These schemes may also proliferate malware, e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc. Most users access deceptive sites unintentionally.
They enter the pages through mistyped URLs, redirects caused by intrusive ads, or have them force-opened by installed PUAs.
The scam closely mimics the visual graphics of Microsoft Windows content, thereby increasing the impression of the site's legitimacy. The text presented in this scheme urges users to download/install the endorsed software by claiming that it's an important Windows Defender update.
At the time of research, the scam uses the genuine Microsoft installer to spread its untrustworthy and/or dangerous content.
By trusting the "Important Defender update available" scheme and downloading/installing the fake updates, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
PUAs are commonly distributed through online scams. These applications appear legitimate and offer "handy" functionalities, which are rarely operational. Fake anti-viruses are prime examples of this type of PUAs.
They require activation (i.e., purchase) to perform the advertised features, yet following activation - the functions remain nonoperational.
Furthermore, unwanted apps can have unmentioned, heinous abilities. Some PUAs can force-open misleading, deceptive, and malicious websites (e.g., ones running "Important Defender update available"). Adware-types run intrusive advertisement campaigns.
Once clicked on, the delivered ads redirect to harmful webpages and may be able to stealthily download/install software. Browser hijackers are another type of PUAs. They operate by making changes to browser settings and restricting/denying access to them - in order to promote (by causing redirects to) fake search engines.
The promoted web searchers seldom can provide search results, so they redirect to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other legitimate search engines. What is more, most PUAs can track data. Information of interest includes: browsing activity, IP addresses, geolocations, personally identifiable details, and so on.
The collected data is then shared with and/or sold to third-parties. Therefore, it is strongly advised to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay. Scams likes "Important Defender update available" have been noted proliferating malware as well.
This dangerous software can have various malicious functionalities, and these functions can be in different combinations. Trojan is a broad malware type, which can be designed to steal data, spy on users, cause chain infections, and so on.
To elaborate, these malicious programs may enable remote access and control over the infected device (Remote Access Trojans - RATs), exfiltrate content stored on the systems, extract information from installed browsers and other applications, record key-strokes (keylogging) or audio/video, download/install additional malware, etc.
Ransomware operates by encrypting files and/or locking the device's screen - to demand ransoms for the decryption/ access recovery. Cryptominers use system resources (potentially, to the point of permanent hardware damage) to generate cryptocurrency.
Therefore, to ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to immediately use anti-virus tools to remove all malware infections.
|Name||Important Defender update available pop-up|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Scam implies that users must update their Windows Defender.|
|Distributed Unwanted Apps||Various dubious and/or malicious applications|
|Detection Names (installer)||AegisLab (Trojan.MSIL.Reline.i!c), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/Spy.Agent.BXY), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Reline.gen), Malwarebytes (Malware.AI.4022418607), McAfee (Artemis!1AE6FB4E1B4B), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (updatedefender[.]online)||22.214.171.124|
|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 Combo Cleaner.
The Internet is full of misleading, deceptive, and malicious material. Online scams aim to gain and subsequently abuse users' trust - to generate profit at their expense. Various tactics and techniques are employed to achieve this goal.
Popular scam models include: alerts that a piece of essential software is outdated or missing (e.g., vpn1aprotectplus[.]com, "Fake flash player update", etc.), warnings that the system is infected or at risk ("Firewall Spyware Alert", "Your System Detected Some Unusual Activity", etc.), fake prize raffles (e.g., "Google Membership Rewards", "Chrome search contest 2021", etc.), ludicrous deals and offers (e.g., "Binance giveaway", "Doge Giveaway", etc.), and so on.
Regardless of what these scams claim, offer, request, or demand - trusting them can result in a variety of severe problems. Due to how widespread online schemes are, it is highly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.
How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?
PUAs are distributed through download/installation setups of other programs. This deceptive marketing technique of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling".
Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., skipped steps and sections, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive adverts are also used to spread PUAs. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user consent.
PUAs can have "official" download webpages, which are often promoted by scam sites.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is important to research software prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, only official and verified download channels must be used.
Untrustworthy sources, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - commonly offer harmful and bundled content.
When downloading/installing, it is recommended to read terms, study all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, etc.
Intrusive advertisements appear legitimate and innocuous; however, they redirect to unreliable and questionable webpages (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others).
In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be inspected and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately upon detection.
If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.
Text presented in the "Important Defender update available" scam:
Update Windows Defender
Important Defender update available. Click "Install" to continue.
Verified Publisher: Microsoft Corporation
Necessary measures: Click "Install", then "Allow" and then "Add" to continue.
Do not show this notification again
Screenshot of the installation setup promoted via "Important Defender update available" scam:
The appearance of "Important Defender update available" pop-up scam (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is "Important Defender update available Scam"?
- STEP 1. Uninstall deceptive applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove rogue extensions from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove potentially unwanted plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove rogue extensions from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
- STEP 6. Remove adware from Internet Explorer.
Removal of potentially unwanted applications:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 users:
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.
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
macOS (OSX) users:
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.
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:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the 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.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the important defender update available pop-up, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the 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.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (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.
Computer users who have problems with important defender update available 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, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....
In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge 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.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the important defender update available pop-up, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
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.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" 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".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the important defender update available 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.
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.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Commonly, 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.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove important defender update available pop-up from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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