Faux virus warning on my laptop
November 28, 2017 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Last night a page came up with a faux virus warning and a voice telling me "You have a virus and you have porn on your computer and please enter your username and password for help or you will be fined $5,000" Etc. This happened about a year ago and I merely closed it and ran a scan (I forget what I have; my ISP provides it).

This time I couldn't close it so I turned it off and disconnected it from the Net.

The computer place down the way wants $160 to wipe it and re install (saving everything on my drive for me).

Is this a fair price, but more importantly, do I need this?

I read about Task Manager command and will try that next to close it.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh and feel free to explain as if I'm about ten (actually, a ten year old might know more!)
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 4:45 PM on November 28, 2017

As you said it's a faux warning. Unless you installed something, I don't believe your machine has been compromised. They're very clever at preventing you from closing those windows, or so I hear.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:56 PM on November 28, 2017

Yeah, I used to get those on my work computer and I just rebooted it and it was just fine.
posted by stormygrey at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2017

If it's a warning in a webpage, which might be a dialogue box that's tricky to tell it's safe to ignore. That wording is usually scaremongering too, it's the more blatant "we've encrypted your files and pay us in bitcoin/altcoin in two days" ones that may be real, and techs probably can't help you unless you have a backup.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2017

It's absolutely a scam; your computer is fine (or, if it's not fine, it's because of an unrelated issue.) All you need to do is get the stupid pop-up window to close. There are some suggestions here that might help.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

When done with getting it closed, run a MalwareBytes (green free download button) scan to get rid of anything this thing may have tried to do. If you can't get it closed, hold the Windows key on your keyboard, tap R, let go, and in the Run box that's brought up, type:

iexplore malwarebytes.com

and hit enter.

That should at least bring up an IE window to be able to download it.

If you run into trouble or weirdness, post back.
posted by deezil at 5:10 PM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

For what it's worth this sort of thing periodically gets served up by compromised ad farms. I'd stick to a full scan from Windows Defender, then get an ad blocker addon for my web browser and call it a day.
posted by mhoye at 7:00 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I once had an issue a long time ago where porn sites would just open up on their own when I opened my web browser. Looking back now, it's hilarious I got myself into this predicament in college when I had roommates, but at the time it wasn't amusing. No clue how I got it, but it's just some crap you accidentally installed. You do not need to wipe your computer and this shouldn't cost $160 to deal with. I would just run a virus scan, I use Avast, and a malware scan, like Malwarebytes, and I also recommend Spybot.

In my case, I think maybe it was related to Internet Explorer or something. Do you know what triggers or prompts the message? If it's your browser, you may need to check your add-ons/extensions or in my case, I am pretty sure I just completely uninstalled the browser and then reinstalled it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:11 PM on November 28, 2017

The people I support at work get these fairly regularly, and I'd say 90% of the time when I ask them if they've been reading one of the local newspapers' web sites immediately before the warning started, they say yes. (The other 10% can't remember, but probably were.) This is almost certainly something that's being served along with the ads on some site you've visited; installing a good ad blocker (I like uBlock Origin) will help prevent recurrence.

There's also not much risk of any actual infection that would be cleaned by malwarebytes or similar -- every single one of these I've seen has been a social engineering attack where they try to scare you into calling "tech support", who will walk you through installing the actual malware yourself.

If the warning you're getting has a phone number, not instructions for how to pay someone in bitcoin, you're fine. Kill your browser (control-alt-delete -> task manager -> end task on windows, option-command-escape -> force quit on a mac) to make the warning go away, run a virus scan if you want, install an ad blocker.
posted by hades at 8:51 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I use firefox, and it has an option up on the right, to erase the last five minutes, that usually works to cut short those fishing warnings.
posted by Oyéah at 10:11 PM on November 28, 2017

Also, ALT+F4 for the future.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2017

« Older What statistical measure compares a subset and its...   |   Where can I find cool shirts matching for toddlers... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.