Avoid getting scammed by fake "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" sites

Also Known As: "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" tech support scam
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Windows Defender Firewall Alert"?

While reviewing untrustworthy websites, our researchers discovered the "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" technical support scam. This scheme mimics Windows alerts and claims the user's device is infected. The aim is to lure the victim into calling a fake helpline, thus roping them into an elaborate scam.

Windows Defender Firewall Alert scam

"Windows Defender Firewall Alert" scam overview

When we entered a site running "Windows Defender Firewall Alert", the background page imitated the Blue screen error – a critical Windows system error. The pop-up displayed on top claimed to be an alert from Microsoft Defender Antivirus (formerly Windows Defender). This window stated that adware had been detected on the visitor's device. It then listed the potential threats associated with the software's presence. The user was urged to call the support line.

Clicking the "Continue to website" button on the pop-up presented a different page. It imitated the Microsoft website and included multiple pop-up windows, including a system scan and various threat reports. Throughout this webpage, the user was pushed to call the helpline.

It must be stressed that all the information provided by "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" is false; in fact, no website can detect threats on visitors' devices. Furthermore, this scam is not associated with Windows, Microsoft, or any other legitimate products, services, or entities.

Once called, the scammers pretend to be support/technicians, and they maintain this pretense throughout the scheme. This fraud may take place entirely over the phone. The cyber criminals can trick victims into making monetary transactions, disclosing information, purchasing products, downloading/installing software (including malware), or performing other actions.

While this may be contained within the call, tech support scams usually involve remote access to victims' devices. Scammers often rely on legitimate remote access programs (e.g., UltraViewer, TeamViewer, etc.) to establish a connection to users' computers. Once a connection is created, the cyber criminals can damage the device or cause a variety of other severe issues.

Threats posed by tech support scammers

When scammers remotely access victims' computers, they can disable/remove genuine security tools, install fake anti-viruses, extract data, and infiltrate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.).

Targeted information may include log-in credentials of various accounts (e.g., emails, social networking/media, e-commerce, money transferring, cryptowallets, online banking, etc.), personally identifiable details (e.g., names, birthdates, occupations, home addresses, etc.), and finance-related data (e.g., banking account details, credit card numbers, etc.).

Victims can be deceived into providing this information over the phone or entering it into phishing websites or files. Additionally, the criminals can also use data-stealing malware to obtain these details.

The bogus "services" provided by technical support scammers tend to be exorbitantly priced. Difficult-to-trace methods are usually used to acquire the funds, e.g., cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, gift cards, or cash hidden in packages and shipped. It must be mentioned that successfully scammed victims often get targeted repeatedly.

To summarize, by trusting a scam like "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" – users can experience multiple system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

Should it be impossible to close a scam page – end the browser's process using Windows Task Manager. Note that the previous browsing session includes the deceptive site, so do not restore it when re-accessing the browser.

If you have allowed cyber criminals to access your device remotely – first, you must disconnect it from the Internet. Secondly, uninstall the remote access program used since the criminals may not need your consent to reconnect. Lastly, perform a full system scan with an anti-virus and remove all detected threats.

If you have provided your log-in credentials to scammers – immediately change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. However, if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the appropriate authorities without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" tech support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Various threats were detected on the user's device.
Disguise Microsoft
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +44 808 175 1925
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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Technical support scam examples

We have investigated thousands of online scams; "Microsoft Windows Firewall Warning", "A Malicious Item Has Been Detected!", "U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission", and "Firewall Update Required" are just some examples of tech support scams.

There are countless types of schemes on the Internet. While scams use different false claims and mechanisms, the end goal is the same – to generate revenue at victims' expense. Therefore, we highly recommend exercising caution while browsing.

How did I open a scam website?

Scam sites are primarily promoted via webpages using rogue advertising networks, mistyped URLs (typosquatting), spam (e.g., emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, social media/ forum posts, browser notifications, etc.), intrusive ads, and installed adware.

How to avoid visiting scam websites?

We strongly advise being careful while browsing since fraudulent and malicious content usually appears legitimate and harmless. For example, intrusive adverts and spam browser notifications may look innocuous – yet redirect to unreliable and dubious pages (e.g., scam-promoting, pornography, gambling, etc.).

To avoid receiving unwanted browser notifications – do not permit suspicious sites to deliver them (i.e., do not click "Allow", "Allow Notifications", etc.). Instead, deny or ignore notification requests from such webpages (i.e., press "Block", "Block Notifications", etc.). We recommend paying attention to URLs and entering them carefully.

We also advise against using websites offering pirated content or other questionable services (e.g., Torrenting, illegal streaming/downloading, etc.), as these webpages typically utilize rogue advertising networks. Additionally, be careful with incoming emails/messages and do not open attachments or links found in suspect mail.

Another recommendation is to download from official/trustworthy sources and treat installations with caution (e.g., read terms, explore options, use "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt out of supplementary apps, extensions, etc.) – to prevent bundled/harmful content from infiltrating the system.

If your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate all threats.

Text presented in the "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" scam pop-up:

Windows Defender Firewall Alert : Err0r#DW6BD36

Windows Defender Scan has found potentially unwanted Adware on this device that can steal your passwords, online identity, financial information, personal files, pictures or documents.

Immediate Helpline : +44 808 175 1925 (Security Support)

[Continue to website]
[Exit and report]

The appearance of "Windows Defender Firewall Alert" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Windows Defender Firewall Alert scam (GIF)

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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 scams are deceptive messages intended to trick users into performing certain actions. For example, victims can be lured into calling fake support lines, allowing cyber criminals to access devices remotely, disclosing sensitive data, making monetary transactions, downloading/installing software, and so on.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are designed to generate revenue. Cyber criminals profit mainly by obtaining funds through deception, selling or abusing private data, promoting software/products, and spreading malware.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Pop-up scams are promoted on deceptive pages. Most users enter these sites via redirects caused by websites utilizing rogue advertising networks, misspelled URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive adverts, and installed adware.

I cannot exit a scam page, how do I close it?

If you cannot exit a deceptive webpage – end the browser's process using Windows Task Manager. Do not restore the previous browsing session since it includes the scam page.

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

If you have allowed cyber criminals to access your computer remotely – disconnect it from the Internet. Afterward, remove the remote access software that the criminals used (e.g., UltraViewer, TeamViewer, etc.), as they might not need your permission to reconnect. Lastly, run a full system scan with an anti-virus and eliminate all threats.

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

If you have provided your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the relevant authorities.

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

Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and eliminate all manner of threats. It is capable of scanning visited websites for deceptive/malicious content. Therefore, should you access such a webpage – you will be warned, and further access to it will be denied. Combo Cleaner can also detect and remove most of the known malware infections. Keep in mind that performing a complete system scan is essential since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.

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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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