What is rogue security software?

Rogue security software is fraudulent antivirus or antispyware software which appears to be legitimate. These applications, also known as “scareware,” typically display fake virus alerts which are designed to scare you into thinking your computer is infected with viruses or spyware. These pop-ups often look very realistic, like the window pictured below, and try to lure you into updating your security software and/or running a virus scan.

What should I do if I encounter fake virus alerts?

If you encounter these types of pop-up windows while surfing the Internet, you are strongly advised NOT to click anywhere inside the alert box. Instead, use one of the following methods to close the window:

  • Press ALT+F4 on your keyboard to close the current window.
  • Press CTRL+ALT+DEL, open Task Manager, select the Applications tab, select the window you want to close and click End Task.

If these options don’t work, you may want to restart your computer as a precaution.

What can this rogue software do to my computer?

Clicking on these pop-up windows could trigger one or more of these undesirable outcomes:

  • You may trigger the installation of real viruses or spyware.
  • You may be taken to a website which tries to lure you into purchasing fraudulent software.
  • Your computer may become slow or unresponsive, and you may have problems getting online.
  • Allow the perpetrators of the rogue software to gain access to information on your computer.
  • Allow the perpetrators of the rogue software to disable legitimate applications which protect your computer, including Windows updates and your antivirus software.

How can I protect myself from rogue software?

Follow these safe computing guidelines to protect your accounts and your computer:

  • Never download or open files from un-trusted websites.
  • Use caution when clicking on links to Web pages.
  • Never respond to suspicious pop-up windows or dialog boxes (press ALT+F4 instead).
  • Never open e-mail attachments from unknown users, or suspicious e-mails from trusted sources.
  • Never reply to e-mail messages from unknown users, or suspicious e-mails from trusted sources.
  • Always choose strong passwords, and change your passwords on a regular basis.

What should I do if I think my computer is infected with rogue software?

If you believe your computer has been infected with rogue software, contact the Computing Help Desk for assistance. Our staff will attempt to scan and remove the infections from your computer. Please note: some strains of spyware are particularly virulent and difficult to remove. Therefore, it may be necessary to rebuild/reimage your computer, which can take between 1-2 business days.

Learn More

To learn more about rogue security software, and ways to protect your computer, visit this Microsoft website: