What is scareware?

What is scareware?


Scareware, also known as scare tactics or ransomware, is a malicious computer program that tries to gain access to your system by frightening you. They may show a warning message with an error code and demand payment in order for you to be able to use your computer again. These messages are often difficult or impossible to bypass without paying the “fine”—which of course will do nothing but continue the cycle of being locked out of your own system.

Scareware is a rapidly growing problem in most countries and can affect anyone from personal laptop users to large corporations with hundreds of computers. In most cases, they come from even more nefarious sources including keyloggers, trojans, or simply by clicking on a corrupted website/link—though some have been known to use fake, official (and ironically) anti-virus websites to trick computer users into downloading their malicious software.

What is scareware?

Scareware is a type of malware that, when downloaded, will simulate a genuine computer security warning. The user is then told they need to purchase a registration key in order to solve the problem. Scareware, unlike most other forms of malware, does not actually damage your computer. It’s usually just annoying and frustrating.

Scareware is usually designed to prompt you to pay money for software that will remove the scareware from your computer. In reality, though, this is unnecessary as there are free programs/extensions available on sites like PCWorld or CNET that will detect and remove most scareware from an infected computer.

Scareware is any type of virus, malware, or another form of cyber-attack that deceives users into believing their computer is at risk. Scareware messages often appear to be security alerts from your internet browser which are designed to make you believe that your computer has contracted a serious threat. It may also convince you to pay for unnecessary software in order to solve the problem.

How does it work?

Scareware is the term that is given to any type of malware that works by displaying a fake message that warns the user that their computer is infected with viruses. The message will then instruct the user to call a provided phone number for help. It will also display a message which looks like there’s a virus in the system, and it will often suggest downloading software from a third-party website.

Often these spam messages are delivered via email, but they can also be presented when browsing certain websites. Scareware messages may also appear on an Android device, disguised as a legitimate app by using a similar name and icon.

The part of this scareware attack that makes it seem believable is that an uninformed user could think they really do have a computer virus. Scareware attempts to scare the user, and often displays many of the common features that would normally appear if their pc was infected with a real virus.

The appearance of these fake scan results typically lists malware that is known to be nonexistent or already removed from devices. Oftentimes, the list will include popular computer viruses that have been around for years and contain easily available removal tools.

Why do people use it?

Some people use scareware because they want to intimidate their victims into paying for something or doing something that is illegal.

Other times, people may use it as part of a game. One example would be the “Tag” game where if the player has an iPhone, they would need to answer a message with “hello”. The app then secretly takes pictures of them and posts them on social media sites if they don’t follow through with the task at hand.

It is easy to spread scareware because it is disguised as a useful application. The app has a very generic name and icon, while the virus itself does not inflict any harm on the user’s device or data. This makes it hard for users to detect that they have been infected because there are no adverse effects from being tricked into downloading the app.

Who can be affected by it?

Anyone can be affected by scareware, but it usually targets computer users that are not antivirus aware. Scareware also targets the elderly, since they may not be tech-savvy.

Scareware targets computer users that are not aware of the dangers behind scareware. Every year, over 550 million people in the US alone fall for online scams and one out of every 3 Americans is affected by cybercrime. With almost half of these crimes involving malware attacks or resulting in identity theft, it is likely that scareware will be involved.

What are the common types of scareware?

There are many common types of scareware, including FBI Moneypak Virus, Piriform Virus, and Data Recovery Scam.

The FBI Moneypak virus is a ransomware scam that says you have to pay a fine via money order or pre-paid card. It asks for the payment to be made within 48 hours and has an image of the FBI on it. This virus gains access by getting you to open an email with malicious links, downloaded files, or through a virus or keylogger.

The Piriform Virus is a malware program that pretends to be a popular Windows system-cleaning tool called CCleaner, which you have probably heard of if you use a PC with any regularity. It steals banking information and locks your computer so you can’t access anything else on it until you pay up. This virus gains access by getting you to open an email with malicious links, downloaded files, or through a virus or keylogger.

Data Recovery Scam is malware that pretends to be ransomware called CryptoLocker. Data Recovery Scam actually isn’t ransomware at all, but it does pretend to be. It says that your computer has been locked by a government agency because you have been breaking the law, and it asks for a fine to be paid in order to unlock your files. The worst part is, this virus will actually delete all of your important documents if you don’t pay within 24 hours. These viruses gain access by getting you to open an email with malicious links, downloaded files, or through a virus or keylogger.

How to prevent yourself from getting this type of malware in the future?

The best way to prevent getting malware in the future is to use anti-malware software that you can download online. You should also be sure to keep all of your software up-to-date. Finally, always update your antivirus definitions and scan for viruses before opening attachments from unknown sources.

If you do become infected with scareware, the first thing you should do is quarantine the malware on your computer. Next, make sure that all of your files are backed up thoroughly. Then, you can begin to remove the malware from your computer completely. You will have to locate all of the related files manually and delete them one by one. After that, you can restore your computer to an earlier date using your backups. Since scareware usually works by hijacking your browser, you should change all of your passwords after removing the malware.


Scareware is a type of malware that can be used to scare or intimidate people into making payments. The name “scareware” comes from the idea that it tricks users into thinking they are in danger and will lose something valuable, like their data, if they don’t make some kind of payment within a short time frame. As with many types of malware, its creators use pop-up windows or fake alerts on your computer screen to get you to pay attention before launching another more aggressive attack. Scareware is different from ransomware, which holds data hostage and demands payment to release it. Scareware doesn’t actually collect or delete any of the victims’ information; it only tries to intimidate them into making a payment that they may or may not be able to afford. It’s important to remember that most online scams have some kind of intention of financially benefiting from the targets, whether it’s stealing bank account information or making purchases through a fake online store.

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