What Is a Fake Antivirus: Spotting and Mitigating the Threat

what is a fake antivirus

What is a fake antivirus, and how do you know if you have installed one?

Keep reading to find the answers and learn how to protect yourself from this type of malware.

What Is a Fake Antivirus Software and How Does It Work? 

A rogue or fake antivirus is actually a computer virus disguised as antivirus software.

Users usually come across these programs through alerts, ads, or pop-ups and install them on their devices without even realising that the software is running a fake virus scan. 

These fake antivirus programs are typically malware themselves that could steal or lock your data. Alternatively, the program could disable your existing antivirus software leaving you vulnerable to computer viruses and worms or ask for payment to remove a threat that is not even there.

How to Spot a Fake Antivirus?

Here are a few tell-tale signs that the antivirus software you installed is not legit:

  • You will get more threats detected with the fake virus scan; 
  • You will see more pop-ups than usual; 
  • You will be asked for personal data right off the bat (address, credit cards numbers);
  • Your system might slow down; 
  • You might see the program running but can’t remember installing it; 
  • You might not be able to start up your existing antivirus software;
  • The home page on your browser might change.

Steps to Remove a Fake Antivirus

To remove a fake antivirus from your device, you need to: 

  1. Restart the computer in Safe Mode 
  2. Find the infected file manually and remove it 
  3. Delete all restore points and start your device in Normal mode. 

In some cases, a great antivirus software like Kaspersky or Norton will detect the fake antivirus program and remove it. 

However, the reality is that these programs are designed to be persistent and difficult to get rid of, which means that you might have to take more serious actions, like formatting your hard drive and reinstalling your OS.

How to Protect Your Device from a Fake Antivirus Software?

The easiest way to get rid of a fake antivirus is not to install it in the first place. Here are some of the precautions you can take:

  • Be aware of the existence of fake virus protection. 
  • Buy quality antivirus software from a known brand.
  • Enable your firewall & allow your AV software to do regular updates.
  • Enable web-push notifications.
  • Don’t click on pop-ups.
  • Don’t open emails from strange and unfamiliar senders or open attachments.
  • Keep away from torrent pages.
  • Open only secure web pages. 

Finally and most importantly, think before you click on links, download or open attachments. 

Wrapping Up 

No device is safe from a cyberattack disguised as a fake antivirus. It’s vital that you know all about these programs, from where they are found to how they work, so you can protect yourself and your computer from such threats.


1. What is the meaning of fake antivirus?

A fake antivirus could be malware in disguise attempting to scam you or steal your data, or it could do a poor job of protecting your PC, so you are more exposed to threats. 

2. Is there a fake McAfee?

Yes, you could end up installing a fake version of the popular antivirus suite. If you suspect that your McAfee program is not genuine, contact the company’s customer support to check. 

3. How can you tell if you have a fake anti-virus?

Some of the signs to look out for are low system performance, continuous pop-ups with threats found and the program asking you for money to get rid of a threat. 

4. What happens if you download a fake antivirus?

Fake antivirus software could infect your computer with malware, making it is all the more important to know the answer to questions like “what is a fake antivirus” and “how to stop a fake antivirus from attacking my device”, as well as purchasing a top-quality and legit antivirus software. 


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