Avoid getting scammed by sites displaying a "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert"

Also Known As: Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert tech support scam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert"?

"Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" is a technical support scam promoted on various rogue websites. It makes fake claims about users' devices being infected with malware and urges them to contact Microsoft's support. It must be emphasized that this scam is in no way associated with the Microsoft Corporation, and all of its claims are false.

Scams are designed to generate revenue at victims' expense; tech support scams do so in various ways - mostly incorporating calls to fraudulent helplines and remote access to victims' devices. Furthermore, it must be stressed that no site can detect issues/threats present on visitors' computers; hence, all that make such statements - are scams.

Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert scam

"Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" scam overview

When a website running this is accessed, it presents visitors with various pop-ups. They are disguised as system scans and virus alerts.

The scheme describes the malware infection (e.g., "Pornographic_Spyware Alert", etc.) and lists the threats it poses. The background page is disguised as the official Microsoft support page. This scam aims to trick users into calling fake helplines and entangle them in technobabble-laced deceit.

Typically, tech support scammers request remote access to their victims' devices (via genuine remote software). Once access is established, the cyber criminals can cause a wide variety of problems. For example, scammers can remove legitimate anti-virus tools, install (purchasable) fake anti-viruses, infiltrate malware (trojans, ransomware, etc.), exfiltrate private data, and so on.

Regardless of how the criminals operate after the connection is initiated, the fees for their "services" are exorbitant. Under the guise of "Microsoft technicians", the criminals can demand payment for fake malware removal, product installation/activation, subscription, service termination, etc. What is more, successfully scammed victims are usually targeted repeatedly.

To summarize, by trusting the "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" scheme, users can experience multiple system infections, severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert tech support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims that users devices have been infected.
Disguise Scam is disguised as an alert from Microsoft.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-489-8832, +1-844-670-5096, 050-5539-1446, +1-800-595-8702, 1866-229-7730
Related Domains swangin[.]xyz
Detection Names (swangin[.]xyz) Combo Cleaner (Phishing), Fortinet (Phishing), G-Data (Malware), Kaspersky (Malware), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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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Online scams in general

"Access to this pc has been blocked for security reasons", "Code 0x03A10 (0E10)", "Firewall Spyware Alert", and "Microsoft Security Essentials Alert" are some examples of technical support scams.

The Internet is rife with misleading, deceptive, and even malicious material. There are thousands of various schemes on the Web. Popular scam models include: warnings that the device is infected, alerts that essential software is outdated/missing, fake giveaways and raffles, etc. Due to how widespread scams are, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Scam sites are typically accessed inadvertently; most users enter them via mistyped URLs or redirects caused by rogue webpages, intrusive ads, or PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications) already installed onto their devices.

Unwanted software typically infiltrates systems without explicit user consent. PUAs are spread using the "bundling" technique - packing regular programs with unwanted/malicious supplements. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations. Some PUAs also have "official" promotional/download webpages.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research software and download it from official/verified channels. Untrustworthy sources, e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc. - often offer bundled/harmful content.

When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt-out from all additions. It is just as important to exercise caution when browsing. Intrusive ads appear innocuous, yet they redirect to dubious websites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.).

In case of encounters with such adverts and/or redirects, the system must be inspected and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. 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 "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" scam:

Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert !
Pornographic_Spyware Alert - Error Code: #0x268d3(00x7)
Access to this PC has been blocked for security reasons.
Contact Microsoft Support: +1-888-489-8832


Threat_Detected - Pornographic_Spyware
App: Ads.financetrack(1).exe
[Quick Support] [Go Back Safety]

The appearance of "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert scam

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:
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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are deceptive messages designed to trick users into performing specific actions (e.g., disclosing sensitive information, downloading files, installing fake or malicious software, making monetary transactions, etc.). "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" is a technical support scam. Schemes of this type tend to involve: calling fraudulent helplines, allowing cyber criminals remote access to devices, installing dubious/malicious programs, disclosing private data (e.g., personally identifiable details, banking account log-in credentials, credit card numbers, etc.), purchasing illegitimate products (e.g., fake anti-viruses), paying bogus fees, and so on.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are created to generate revenue for their designers. How this is achieved - differs. Scams like "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert" usually profit by tricking victims into making fake payments, selling disclosed information, and infecting devices with malware.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Pop-up scams are promoted on rogue websites. These sites are typically accessed inadvertently via mistyped URLs, or redirects caused by questionable pages or deceptive browser notifications/ intrusive advertisements. Scam websites can also be force-opened by harmful apps already installed onto the system.

I have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access my computer, what should I do?

If your device has been remotely accessed - disconnect it from the Internet, uninstall any remote access programs you've installed per scammer request (e.g., AnyDesk, TeamViewer, etc.), and perform a full system scan. If a system infection is detected - use an anti-virus to immediately remove the malware.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by a pop-up scam, what should I do?

If you have disclosed account credentials - change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and contact their official support without delay. If you have provided different personal information (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the relevant authorities.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams and the malware they proliferate?

Combo Cleaner can scan visited sites detect deceptive/scam and malicious ones. Additionally, it can block all further access to such websites. Combo Cleaner is also capable of scanning devices and eliminating nearly all known malware infections. Note that performing a full system scan is crucial, as sophisticated malicious software tends to hide deep within the system.

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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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