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How to recognize scams like McAfee: SECURITY ALERT

Also Known As: McAfee: SECURITY ALERT fake pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is the McAfee: SECURITY ALERT pop-up scam?

We have encountered the "McAfee: SECURITY ALERT" fake virus notification displayed by a deceptive website while visiting other pages that use rogue advertising networks. This scam is similar to many other scams that our team has discovered before. Websites of this type (fake notifications displayed by them) must be ignored.

McAfee: SECURITY ALERT pop-up scam scam

McAfee: SECURITY ALERT pop-up scam in detail

We have examined this scam website and found out that it displays different fake virus notifications (pop-ups) while attempting to close this page (before and during a fake system scan) or moving the mouse cursor outside the browser window. Both of the fake virus alerts are disguised as notifications from McAfee.

One of the fake messages claims that a computer is infected with five viruses. Another one says that not removing those viruses can result in permanent data loss and having credit card details and email, and social network accounts stolen.

Threat Summary:
Name McAfee: SECURITY ALERT fake pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Computer is infected with viruses
Disguise Legitimate notification from McAfee
Related Domain ta23ll-unli87ke[.]xyz
Detection Names (ta23ll-unli87ke[.]xyz) Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), 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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

More about similar pop-up scams

Developers of legitimate antivirus software like McAfee, Norton, Avira or other security solutions have nothing to do with such scams. In most cases, affiliates who advertise legitimate software in deceptive ways seek to collect illegitimate commissions.

More examples of similar scams are "McAfee - Your PC Might Be Vulnerable", "Avira Free Security - Your PC Is Infected With 5 Viruses!", "Norton Security - Your Pc Is Infected With 5 Viruses!". In some cases, these scams are promoted through shady applications.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Users cause unexpected downloads and installations by clicking advertisements designed to execute certain scripts, using fake installers downloaded from deceptive pages, or downloading or installing other programs without changing certain settings.

Users can deselect unwanted apps by unticking checkboxes or using "Custom", "Manual", "Advanced", or other settings available in downloaders and installers. Unwanted downloads/installations are caused by leaving those settings unchanged.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Always use official pages and direct links as sources for downloading files/programs. It is not safe to use other sources such as unofficial pages, Peer-to-Peer networks, third-party downloaders, etc. Examine downloaders and installers with "Custom", "Advanced" or other settings and deselect unwanted apps before downloading or installing programs.

Also, do not click on advertisements showing up on pages related to gambling, pornography, adult dating, or other shady pages. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of McAfee: SECURITY ALERT pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of McAfee: SECURITY ALERT pop-up scam scam

Text in the fake pop-up that appears first:

McAfee

SECURITY ALERT

You visited infected website on: -

Your PC is at risk of being infected by viruses

PLEASE TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY, PERFORM A QUICK SCAN
[QUICK SCAN]

Screenshot of the pop-up that appears before running a fake scan:

mcafee security alert pop-up scam message appearing while trying to close the page

Text in this pop-up:

McAfee
WARNING: YOUR PC IS AT RISK!

Viruses can cause very serious consequences including:

credit card information being stolen
permanent data loss on your PC
sensitive data (email & social networks accounts) being stolen
spamming your email contacts

Are you sure you want to stop McAfee protection?

[YES] [NO]

Screenshot of the pop-up that appears while running a fake scan:

mcafee security alert pop-up scam fake message displayed while trying to close the page during scan

Text in this pop-up:

McAfee

YOUR PC IS INFECTED WITH 5 VIRUSES

Recent scan found threats that may damage your PC

Take action immediately and launch McAfee Now

Start McAfee Protection Now?

[START ANTIVIRUS]

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner 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 Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

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 scam is a fake message (for example, a fake virus or error alert) designed to trick user into performing certain actions.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Scammers use pop-up scams to trick visitors into providing sensitive information, grating remote access to computers, infecting computers with malware, purchasing fake (or unnecessary) software, services. Also, these scams can be used to promote legitimate software. In such cases, affiliates use their scams to collect illegitimate commissions.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Typically, pop-up scams are encountered while visiting websites that use questionable advertising networks. In other words, users do not open pages delivering pop-up scams on purpose.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner can scan all websites and identify malicious ones (including websites that deliver pop-up scams). It warns users about untrustworthy websites and restricts access to them.

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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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