How To Tell If You Have Scareware On Mobile?

How To Tell If You Have Scareware On Mobile?


Scareware is a type of malware that uses social engineering to trick you into believing that your computer or mobile device has been infected by a virus. 

It presents itself as an antivirus application, giving the false impression that it’s useful for rectifying security holes in order to make its “scan” seem all the more convincing. Once it has distracted you with this masquerade, it will actually perform a thorough scan of your device and then point out the most extravagant threats that it “discovered”. The problem is, they’re all bogus.

The scareware’s only real objective is to extort you into purchasing its software so that they can take advantage of your ignorance and fear. An estimated $4 million was made by American companies in 2009 alone from unsuspecting internet users who had been duped by such applications. They spread like wildfire through social media and popular downloads sites like CNET and Softonic in order to create maximum exposure and reach.

What exactly does scareware look like when we come across it on our mobile devices?

Well, there are several distinctive signs that can aid us in recognizing it. 

Pop-Ups That Threaten To Infect Your Device If You Don’t Download Their Software First

When scareware first “detects” a threat, it’ll show you an alert (pop-up) that goes something like this:

“Warning. Suspected virus detected on your device! It might have been infected by malware.”

In most cases, the pop-Up will look very much like a genuine warning from your mobile device manufacturer or mobile OS (Android/iOS). Although not always, this is one of the main signs that you may be dealing with scareware.

Breaking these pop-ups can be quite difficult without actually closing them first, as clicking outside their box simply brings another window up to take its place. These windows are designed to keep you occupied while scareware secretly downloads software onto your mobile device to make it seem even more convincing. Once again though; do NOT download any software that pops up on your screen under any circumstances.

The pop-up tells you that your device is at risk of becoming infected by viruses and Trojans if you don’t download their software first; it may even mention specific threats like Citadel or Zeus which are both known types of Trojan malware.

Please remember that your device is perfectly capable of running scans and removing any threats that it actually IS infected with without you needing to download anything at all! You should also be suspicious if a pop-up suddenly appears out of nowhere.

Removal of Scareware:

If you’ve come across a pop-up that alerts you to malware threats on your mobile, then it’s time to check your device for any additional software that might have been installed without your knowledge. Remember; scareware is meant to be convincing, and as such it’ll probably try and persuade you into thinking that there IS something wrong with your device before presenting the “solution”.

You can remove any additional software quite easily by going Settings – Applications – Manage Applications – Downloaded. Here you will see a list of all the applications and games installed on your smartphone or tablet (be aware that scareware may use names of common applications like “Angry Birds” in order to make itself seem more convincing). Clicking on each entry will give you the option to uninstall or disable it.


Scareware is a problem that has been plaguing the internet for quite some time now. It motivated us to write this article as there seems to be a genuine lack of knowledge about it, especially amongst those new to smartphones and tablets. Scareware preys on people’s ignorance and inability to identify malicious software from what is actually just junk.

In our experience, scareware often spreads via pop-ups appearing on social networking sites like Facebook or through email spam. Pop-up ads are also very common with many browser hijackers that can easily install themselves onto your device without you knowing it – even if you’re running an antivirus program! Scareware isn’t the only form of adware either; there is adware that simply injects ads into the content that you’re viewing, and a form of adware known as “browser hijackers” which can change your browser’s settings by replacing your homepage and search engine with something else.

By using common sense people should be able to avoid scareware, straying away from links or software presented to them via pop-ups or suspicious emails is a good start as well as making sure that their anti-virus programs are kept up-to-date. Scareware is becoming more sophisticated however, so it’s always best to double check anything that pops up on your screen even if it looks genuine.

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