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 How to Identify Fake Antivirus and What to Do so it Doesn’t Happen to Your Company

This post is the latest in a series about how small business owners can prevent scams and fraud in the workplace. The first thing to know about fake antivirus is that its primary purpose is to separate you from your money.  For the most part, cybercriminals distribute fake antivirus programs via Internet ads and popups and sometimes through poisoned search results. It is often referred to as “scareware” and with good reason! However, through awareness and vigilance, you can greatly reduce the risk that antivirus scams could invade your company’s network.


Here are some common attributes of fake antivirus programs:

  • It looks legitimate but… An antivirus program may have a professional-looking graphical user interface that resembles real antivirus applications. Once fake Antivirus is running on a target computer system, it launches the GUI and displays fake scanning activity for the computer

  • After the fake scan is “complete”, the software may reveal that the system is infected with malicious software, viruses, etc.

  • The fake Antivirus application then asks for payment in order to “clean” the system. Once credit card information is entered into the system, the owner immediately becomes a candidate for identity theft.


It is important to remember that an antivirus program that installs itself and then proceeds to “scan” the PC without any user intervention is highly suspicious and is unlikely to be real.  Also, users who are tricked into loading malicious applications on their computers may be providing remote control capabilities to a hacker. Often, the fake antivirus program will create system modifications which can make it difficult to terminate the program.


As a business owner, it is important that you make sure your company has a policy in place which explains what the procedure is if an employee’s computer becomes infected.  Employees should be trained to recognize legitimate warning messages and alert your IT team if an incident occurs.  Also, administrative access should be limited so that employees are less likely to install malicious software on company machines.


Data loss, regardless if it occurs from natural disasters or cyber attacks, can have a significant impact on your company’s reputation. Your customers expect that you are doing everything you can to keep their information safe. Protecting against fake antivirus should be an important component of your overall data protection plan.  


If you would like to discuss this and other topics related to your company’s data protection needs, give us a call today!



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