Beware of Fake Virus Alerts on your Mobile Device

Beware of Fake Virus Alerts on your Mobile Device

A couple of days ago, a few of our readers shared their experience of receiving fake virus alerts while browsing the Internet on their mobile device. This post tells you more about these alerts.

Unwanted and malicious pop-up ads have been around in the Internet for a long time now. Hackers compromise vulnerable websites and force them to display false virus threat notification to trick users into downloading a fake antivirus software, which in most cases, is a malware in itself. We also released a blog post talking about this issue some time back in 2014. The post helped users identity fake virus alerts and mobile antivirus apps on the Internet.

Hackers are now increasingly using the same tactic to trick mobile phone users. As mobile devices are becoming the primary medium to access the Internet, hackers are using this trend to their advantage. A couple of days earlier, one of our readers reported us about a malware threat notification while browsing the Internet on their mobile phone.

As you can see, this message looks critical enough to trick anyone who is reading it, especially if the user is unaware of such scams. In most cases, clicking OK takes the user to a third party site where they are asked to download an antivirus app which claims to clean the infection.

Please be advised that browser notifications such as these are fake virus alerts and you must never respond to them. In almost all cases, these so-called antivirus apps turn out to be adware that serve unwanted ads to trick users and earn money for scammers. In other cases, these apps could be a Trojan horse, or a spyware that steals personal information. In all cases, such apps are unsafe.

What Should You Do?

  1. 1. Do not visit websites by clicking on links received in unwanted or unexpected emails.
  2. 2. If you come across any ‘virus alert’ as shown above, do not respond to the message, no matter how critical it may sound. Close the browser immediately and take the following steps:
    – Clear browsing history
    – Clear the cache
    – Clear cookies & site data
  3. 3. Run an antivirus scan on your mobile using a trusted mobile security app
  4. 4. Never install mobile apps from third party stores. Follow official stores like Google Play
  5. 5. Run a quick research on the publisher of the app you intend to install. Also go through the reviews and comments of users who have used it
  6. 6. Read app permissions carefully before installing it. If you think, there are unnecessary permissions, do not install it
  7. 7. Install a reliable popular mobile security app like famous.