Are Malware Notifications Real (OR Just a Spam)?

Are malware notifications real
Are Malware Notifications Real

Ever came across such kinds of notifications on your browser that read, “Alert! Your phone/computer has a virus”, or “300 threats detected, tap to remove”, which makes us think “Are malware notifications real?”

Usually, such kinds of pop-up notifications drive us into panic mode, and then we end up clicking on them, but certainly, we should not. And therefore, to clear your confusion, I will be answering this most asked question “Are malware notifications real?”, along with some solutions, so that you can easily differentiate between the fake and real ones.

But before that let’s discuss what is malware?

What is Malware?

Malware is a type of malicious software or code, that is injected into the victim’s computer or phone, either via email or phishing links, to destroy the data or get a ransom.

Therefore, if your computer or mobile is infected with any kind of malware attack, you should immediately run an antivirus scan and eliminate it. 

Although malware is not only one of a kind, and has sub-categories too, which includes:

  • Trojan:

A kind of malicious software that tricks a user into thinking that it is legitimate software, and when the user downloads and launches the application, it steals or damages your data.

  • Virus: 

A virus is a type of malicious code, that is designed with the intent to corrupt files or applications. They are created into the form of small codes and can infect other devices through external drives or the same network.

  • Ransomware: 

Ransomware is a kind of malicious software, that is created with the intent to ask for ransom (as the name suggests) when the victim’s data is encrypted by the attackers.

  • Spyware:

Spyware is malicious software that is injected by the attackers into the victim’s computer or phone, with the intent to spy on them. Generally, an attacker gathers information from the victim’s device and sends it over to third-party organizations. Pegasus is one of the best examples of Spyware.

  •  Adware: 

Adware is generally injected into the victim’s browser in order to bombard him with ads so that attacker can earn his rewards from ad companies. It is bundled up with legitimate software, and when a user tries to install it, it hijacks the browser.

Therefore, if you see unusual ads on your browser, even on some sites that don’t serve ads, you are probably infected with the Adware malware.

  • Worms:

Worms is a kind of malware that can replicate itself and spread across the system.

It also uses the affected computer network to spread across other computers.

  • Cryptojacking:

It is the most trending malware around the world, as the craze for Cryptocurrency has increased in past few years. 

To summarise it, hackers inject JavaScript code into the website or use phishing, to cryptojack a victim’s computer and then use it as a power source to mine Cryptocurrency. 

Are Malware Notifications Real?

So, after briefing about “What is malware?”, now I will be providing a straight and simple answer and that is “No”, not all malware notifications are real, unless you have legitimate antivirus software running in the background.

So, if you ever see this type of notifications on your web browser, they are fake and are generally known as “Scareware”, that tricks you into clicking those notifications so that; (a) they can inject malware into your system, or (b) can ask to pay money for virus removal.

How to Differentiate Fake Malware Notifications From the Real Ones?

If you ever encounter such kind of situation, you should look for these pointers to differentiate a fake malware notification from the real one.

  • If the pop-up window appears inside the web browser on a new tab, then my friend it is a scam, and you should immediately close your browser or the tab.
  • Secondly, if it asks you for any kind of payment to remove the virus, just close it because no legitimate antivirus software asks for payment to remove the virus from your system.
  • Sometimes a button with “Get full-time protection” message is displayed on your web browser. Don’t click it as it can download potentially harmful malware on your system.
  • If you ever see a high number of threats detected message on your screen, it is a fake one because it is designed to trick you into believing and clicking it.
  • Sometimes the prompt alert will look so unprofessional because of the flashing color that you will not see on general antivirus software.
  • Threats aren’t listed by the name “trojan”, “virus” or “worm”, but with the help of specific names based on the database that is updated by the security software. So, if you ever come across such alerts with names of the virus, it is fake for sure.
  • Some shady antivirus companies will get you to visit their website by showing you the malware pop-up notifications. These are known as “malvertisments.”  Even some of them might flash a message showing your IP address, but don’t fall into the trick, as every website you visit knows your IP address. Therefore, if you notice something like this, it is a fake one.
  • If there is any grammatical mistake on the pop-up message then you can clearly say it is a fake one, because a reputable antivirus company will ensure their English is perfect and error-free.
  • If the notification makes a loud noise, something like a loud siren, then it is a fake notification.

What to do if You Come Across Such Fake Malware Notifications?

So, if you come across such fake malware notification, you should always try to follow these solutions:

  • Don’t click on the alert:

The first step anyone should attempt if they are caught up with such fake malware notification pop-ups is by not clicking it. Yes, do not by any chance click on it, as it will only cause you more harm than good.

  • Close your entire browser:

It is not witty to click on the “X” button which represents the “Close” button when you see a fake malware pop-up on your browser, as it can download malware on your computer instead of closing it. Therefore, close the entire browser and reopen it, to avoid any inconvenience.

  • Search for the product’s name:

If at any point you encounter such fake malware notification, then you must always cross-check the antivirus product’s name. A legitimate product will always appear on the first page of your Google search result. 

Therefore, if it doesn’t appear on the first page or there is a thread where people are questioning its legitimacy, then probably it is a fake one.

  • Never reach for your credit or debit card:

No reputable antivirus company will ask you to pay any amount to scan for viruses. So, if these fake malware notifications ask you for payment, never pay them.

  • Always do a manual scan with your own security software:

It is the most forgotten thing that should be practiced if you ever see these kinds of notifications. Running a manual scan on your system will help you to get ensured of the malware.

  • Use pop-up blockers:

So, every browser out there in the market, whether it be Chrome, Mozilla, or Edge, has this feature in-built in their browsers. Therefore, just practice toggling them to “ON”, and then browse without any worry.

  • Try clearing your browsing data and cache:

This solution is worth trying because sometimes even after closing the browser, the pop-up reappears because the fake malware notification is injected into the cache. 

Thus, clearing out your browsing history and cache may help you solve this annoying problem.

  • Switch to safe mode:

Try turning your device to safe mode, and if the notification pop-ups are gone, then it is surely due to any malicious application installed on your device. 

Therefore, try to figure out which one is the culprit and delete them.

  • Reset your device:

Okay, so this is kind of a last resort if the notification pop-ups don’t stop even after following these steps, but a strict warning; resetting your device will delete all your files and applications permanently.

So, if you are very sure of this, then go ahead.

Final Remarks:

There are many types of cyberattacks carried out by attackers, but malware is more proactive compared to other attacks. Although sometimes, fake malware notifications pops-up on our screen and we are not able to figure out whether they are real or fake.

Therefore, to help you with the same, this was my brief discussion on the topic “Are malware notifications real?”, that will hopefully clear out your doubts, so that you can take appropriate measures to eliminate them.