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

SearchSecurity

  • black hat

    Black hat refers to a hacker who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent.

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and ...

SearchHealthIT

  • population health management (PHM)

    Population health management (PHM) is a discipline within the healthcare industry that studies and facilitates care delivery ...

  • ICD-10-PCS

    The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS) is a U.S. cataloging system for...

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the largest biomedical library in the world.

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • 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.

SearchStorage

  • hybrid hard drive (HHD)

    A hybrid hard drive (HHD), sometimes known as a solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD), is a mass storage device that combines a ...

  • USB flash drive

    A USB flash drive -- also known as a stick, thumb or pen drive -- is a plug-and-play portable storage device that uses flash ...

  • open source storage

    Open source storage is data storage software developed in a public, collaborative manner that permits the free use, distribution ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage...

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