Fake Antivirus

“Fake Antivirus” means fake antivirus software, useless or even harmful software that supposedly detects and eliminates viruses and other malware. Fake virus alerts are spread most commonly on the Internet. Fake antivirus programs are scams, because cyber criminals demand money for the elimination of non-existent viruses. Therefore, fake antivirus programs are classified as malware.

What does the term “fake antivirus” mean in detail?

Typically spread: Via the Internet

  • While surfing, a warning appears that viruses or other malware has been found on your computer.
  • A program to remove the alleged malware is offered directly for sale or download (and later purchase).
  • The fright and the fear of malware are used as psychological tricks to get users to bypass their usual precautions.

What does the download contain?

  • It often includes a fake program solely designed to prompt the user to purchase a program license. This can be done by:
    • Pop-ups with more fake virus alerts
    • Alleged system crashes (which are really animations)
  • Blocks system functions, supposedly to protect against the supposed virus
  • The appearance of these sham programs is often similar to the legitimate antivirus software.
  • Ironically, this download may include additional malware (such as Trojans).

Further distribution of fake antivirus programs

  • Email fraud
  • Fake or hacked websites
  • Other malware that loads the fake antivirus program on the affected computer
  • Sometimes fake antivirus programs even appear in search engines, as ads or as a result. They are only visible until they are found and deleted by the search engine operators.

Where would I encounter a fake antivirus in everyday work?

Counterfeit virus or malware alerts can be encountered at any time

  • surfing the internet,
  • during normal work on the computer (if it has already been infected) or
  • possibly also by a frightened colleague who shows you such a warning on his computer and asks you for your advice.

What can I do to protect myself from a fake antivirus?

When a virus warning occurs

  • Do not respond to the computer prompts. The best thing to do is to move away from the computer. Why? Because fake antivirus software exploits the human anxiety reaction. Fear prevents clear thinking. As a result, users install and/or pay for fake antivirus software without their usual security precautions and verification.
  • Contact your administrator, who will check:
    • Does this alert come from the antivirus program your company uses?
    • If the warning does not come from "your" antivirus program, it is a fake antivirus program.
    • He will review the alleged find through the legitimate antivirus program used by your company. It probably will not find a virus.


Many measures to increase your company's cyber security also protect against fake antivirus software. Most notably:

  • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date.
  • Make sure you have a powerful, continuously up-to-date virus scanner. This detects malware and gives you additional security against fake alerts.
  • When choosing a new antivirus software, check the legitimacy of your top candidates, such as, whether they are recommended by the Federal Office for Information Security.
  • Always check programs that you download from the Internet for their legitimacy.
  • Cultivate extreme distrust.

Fake Antivirus programs are designed to appear as legitimate as possible. But no serious antivirus program will scan your computer without your permission. No reputable antivirus program requires payment before it eliminates any infection it detects. If you encounter such processes, it is fake antivirus software.


Any questions?
We are here for you.

Arrange a free consultation with our IT security experts. We look forward to meeting you.

+49 030/95 999 80 80 (Mon - Fri 09:00am - 6:00pm)