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Are You Prepared Against Fake Antivirus Software?


It’s known by many names: Rogueware, fake scanners, fake AV, rogue scanners. All these names refer to malicious software masquerading as one of the basic cybersecurity product needed on every machine: Antivirus software. Using the language and sometimes the likeness of real products, rogueware gets unsuspecting victims to purchase or download their fake software. Then they can wreak havoc on your network and devices.

What is Rogue Scanner Hacking?

This is a type of social engineering cyberattack. The threat actor plays on your fears about malware in order to spread malware. They might bombard you with pop-ups to update or download their software because they’ve detected malicious threats on your machine, in an attempt to urge a decision made in haste and out of worry.

Fake AV is one of the two main types of scareware that threaten organizations like yours. ‘Scareware’ refers to deceptive software that insists you download their solution to an issue you didn’t know you had, and consistently reminds you about the imminent threat to your system until you delete the infected files. These pop-ups can occur for months if not reported and dealt with.

Recognizing and Combatting Rogueware

Cybercriminals know that it can be difficult to discern trusted products from fakes, and will leverage that to their advantage. Depending on their target demographic, the hacker may first breach a website commonly used by that age group and inject malicious code that generates pop-ups for their rogue scanners. Then the targets are more likely to buy the fake service because they’re hearing about it from a site they’ve known and trusted in the past.

In better news, it’s easier to protect yourself from rogueware than it previously has been. In the past, real antivirus software has had trouble spotting fake scanners because the rogueware can block actual antivirus programs from detecting and eliminating it. Now, artificial intelligence is evolving and integrating into many different cybersecurity solutions. A lot of legitimate antivirus software can detect AV scanners on your machine now that they’ve advanced past the capabilities of the hackers, but it depends on the service. Plus who knows what cybercriminals will cook up next to get around our current solutions?

If rogue scanners do get into your system, don’t panic! Your IT specialists should already have protocols in place for how to deal with recognized security threats and where to report them. If you’re not sure, now is a great time to ask!


The best protection against rogue scanner hackers is to learn how to recognize and avoid the fake programs in the first place. Be aware of false advertisements and pop-ups for antivirus software you’ve never heard of before. Research products before you buy to ensure they have good reviews or are coming from verified sellers. It can still be difficult to detect rogue scanners with real antivirus software and thus cautiousness is better than scrambling to delete the infected files before they spread malware.

Even on websites you trust, be careful of what you download, especially when you’re on the company network or a machine they’ve provided for you to work from home. Rogue scanners are often the gateway to malware and ransomware. Watch what enters your network, and you’ll spend less time worrying about getting malicious downloads back out!


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