Scareware is malicious software that tricks computer users into visiting malware-infested websites. Also known as deception software, rogue scanner software or fraudware, scareware may come in the form of pop-ups.
The messages often appear authentic, mimicking legitimate security software or operating system alerts, and may include intimidating language or warnings about data loss, system damage, or privacy breaches.
They are so cleverly done that users are frightened into paying a fee to quickly purchase software that will fix the so-called problem. What they end up downloading, however, is fake antivirus software that is actually malware intended to steal the victim’s personal data.
Here are some key characteristics of scareware:
Deceptive Pop-up Messages: Scareware often presents itself through intrusive pop-up messages that suddenly appear on the user’s screen while browsing the internet or using their computer.
False Security Alerts: The messages generated by scareware falsely claim that the user’s computer is infected with viruses, spyware, or other malicious software. They may display exaggerated or fabricated threat levels to intensify the sense of urgency.
Persuasive Tactics: Scareware utilizes persuasive tactics to convince users to take immediate action. This can involve urging them to purchase a fake antivirus or security software, providing a link to a malicious website, or encouraging them to call a fraudulent tech support number.
Malicious Downloads or Payments: Victims who fall for scareware tactics may end up downloading and installing malicious software disguised as security software. They may also make payments for useless or non-existent products or services, exposing their financial information to the attackers.
Scareware typically targets less tech-savvy users who may not be familiar with typical cybersecurity practices or the signs of a scam. It preys on their fear of malware infections and their desire to protect their computers and personal information.