There are plenty of good antivirus programs on the market, but unfortunately, there are also plenty of bad ones. For every trusted, high-quality antivirus program, there seems to be at least one fake antivirus program, making it difficult for consumers to figure out which program will best protect their PCs.
Fortunately, there are ways to spot fake antivirus software. Keep reading to discover how you can distinguish good antivirus programs from bad ones.
Flashy interface, limited performance
One thing that most fake antivirus programs have in common is that they don’t look fake. After all, the reason scams are so successful is that people don’t realize they’re being scammed until it’s too late. Fake antivirus software developers will invest a significant amount of time into making their program look good.
Sometimes, the interface of fake antivirus software is designed to look like an official Windows program. In other cases, program interfaces replicate the look and feel of real antivirus software. They might mimic the menu system of a trusted company like Symantec or Norton, for example.
Furthermore, the interface only directs users towards one thing – pressing the scan button. There won’t be a ‘Settings’ menu or any type of customizations available. In some cases, fake antivirus software might automatically start scanning your computer immediately after you download it.
After installing fake antivirus software, warning balloons might pop up frequently as you try to use your computer. Every time you close a warning balloon, another might pop up. Normal antivirus programs don’t do this, and seeing a large number of warning balloons could mean that you have downloaded fake antivirus software.
A suspiciously high number of errors
Your computer might have hundreds of viruses on it, but it probably doesn’t. Unless you’ve made a concerted effort to download every virus you find on the internet, the chances of your computer having more than 100 viruses are fairly low.
Normal antivirus software might discover between 5 to 20 critical errors on your computer as well a higher number of minor errors. This is a normal range for a computer that has not been scanned on a regular basis. If your antivirus software is telling you that your computer has hundreds or even thousands of errors, then you could be the victim of an antivirus scam.
Limited use of your computer
Today’s viruses are dangerous because they lock down your computer’s operating system. Certain viruses will disable access to your internet browser, for example, while others will prevent you from opening the Windows Task Manager. Fake antivirus software operates on the same principle. After bombarding users with popups, fake antivirus software might completely prevent you from accessing the internet.
Why would fake antivirus software do this? Well, if you could access the internet, you could Google search the name of your antivirus software and discover if other users have had similar complaints. Simply searching “[Your antivirus software] scam” should be enough to reveal if you’ve been duped.
You might have purchased the fake antivirus software for $5 or $10, which seems like a good price. However, after downloading it and performing your first scan, the antivirus software might hijack your computer and demand $50 or $60 to fix all errors. This is a classic software scam. Don’t fall for it.
If you’ve noticed any of the problems we’ve listed above, then you could be the victim of a fake antivirus scam. Download real antivirus software to fix your problem or try to uninstall your fake antivirus software manually.