Infected by Scareware? You’re Toast!

Regular readers of this site may well have wondered why I have not dealt with the issue of so called “scareware” removal, in some time.

Frankly, articles dealing with the removal of scareware generate huge numbers of hits. Often, a single article dealing with the newest form of scareware, and how to eradicate it from an infected system, will produce 1,000 + hits in a day on this site.

So what’s the problem then; why not write about it – bloggers love to get loads of hits, right? Well yes, bloggers do like to get loads of hits, so that’s not a problem. The problem is whether or not advice on how to remove scareware leads to a malware free system.

Having watched the development and deployment of scareware over the last two years, and having noted the increasing sophistication of the current crop of scareware applications, I have come to the conclusion that scareware removal instructions have limited value, except perhaps, for the most technically sophisticated computer user. I’m not fussy on having to give up 1,000 + hits a day, but……

While it may be true that this type of malware, otherwise known as “rogue security software”, is scary, it is so much more than that. A more accurate name for this parasitic infectious software is “destroyware”, since the effect it has on a victim’s system is just that.

Once infected by this type of malware, the chances of a safe system recovery are essentially non-existent. The installation of such malware invariable leads to a critically disabled PC. A reformat and a system re-install, are more than likely in the cards.

Yes, I know, there are literally hundreds of sites that will walk you through the process of attempting to eliminate this type of scourge, but simply put – if your computer becomes infected with the current scareware circulating on the Internet, you are, in most cases, wasting your time attempting to save your system.

If you doubt this, take a look at Trojan War Resolution: The Battle Won, in which the author (Larry Walsh of eWeek), describes a three day marathon system recovery attempt which was ultimately successful, but…..

The best advice? Have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage. Computer technicians do not provide services at no cost, so be prepared for the costs involved.

If you have become infected by scareware (rogue software), and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.

The following free resources can provide tools and advice you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

411 Spyware – a site that specializes in malware removal. I highly recommend this site.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software. This is another site I highly recommend.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.

Additional precautions you can take to protect your computer system:

When surfing the web: Stop. Think. Click

Don’t open unknown email attachments

Don’t run programs of unknown origin

Disable hidden filename extensions

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Disable scripting features in email programs

Make regular backups of critical data

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all email attachments

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Personal Perspective, Recommended Web Sites, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, scareware, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

6 responses to “Infected by Scareware? You’re Toast!

  1. Mr. Mullins,
    As a computer tech (“in the trenches”) I can attest to the truth in the statements made here. But it is a reality people don’t want to hear, and certain product vendors don’t want us to know. I applaud you for this.

    It is absolutely essential to make regular backups of your computer, and store them some place other than on your computer… yet (practically) no one does so.

    Burn some CD’s/DVD’s. If your backup is to an “attached storage device”, unplug it when not actually making a backup.

    • Bill Mullins


      Having been involved in tech security for so many years, I’ve lost count, I know this. This is an industry that is rife with misinformation.

      I’m sure my article today, will not win me many friends in the industry, but the “messenger” is always at risk. My readers interests are what count, from where I stand.


  2. g

    I have a clients computer that got infected that I need to fix. Scareware. She pushed the “fix it” button which rendered her computer useless.

    Moral to the story – if scareware pops up, don’t push the “fix it” button.

  3. There is a very powerful program out there that is free to use. when this is coupled with a good up to date virus scanner these threats are removed completely. this program is called malwarebytes…it removes spyware and malware…malware being these programs that pose as actual antivirus programs. another good one to run alongside it that is also free is spybot search and destroy. i have run avast, malwarebytes, and spybot on my conuter for years and with regular scans i have never had any issue with infection or removing infection when an issue comes up. also running a 64 bit operating system makes you more resilient as well.