Browse Definitions:
Definition

scareware

Scareware is a type of malware designed to trick victims into purchasing and downloading useless and potentially dangerous software.

Scareware, which generates pop-ups that resemble Windows system messages, usually purports to be antivirus or antispyware software, a firewall application or a registry cleaner. The messages typically say that a large number of problems -- such as infected files -- have been found on the computer and the user is prompted to purchase software to fix the problems. In reality, no problems were detected and the suggested software purchase may actually contain real malware. If the user falls for the scam, he will lose the money he paid for the useless software and he may also make his computer unusable. Frequently, the message window has a clickjacking feature that takes the user to the attacker's Web site or initiates a malware download if the user clicks "Cancel" or the "X" to close the window.

In October 2008, Microsoft and the Washington attorney general sued two Texas-based companies, Branch Software and Alpha Red. Those two companies are responsible for Registry Cleaner XP, a very common scareware program. In December 2008, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiated a restraining order against two companies in the United States, Innovative Marketing, Inc. and ByteHosting Internet Services. Scareware programs produced by those companies include DriveCleaner, WinAntivirus, ErrorSafe, WinFixer and XP Antivirus.

If you encounter a suspicious pop-up, you should right-click on the item in the task bar and select "Close" or manually exit the browser by clicking Ctrl-Alt-Delete. To protect your system from future attempts, install a good pop-up blocker and configure it to prevent pop-ups from sites other than those that you specifically allow.

This was last updated in August 2010

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close