Almost every internet user has encountered “scareware,” those fake anti-virus warnings that pop up with the intent of scaring people into believing that their computer is at risk of being infected or compromised in some way.
Often, users are offered some sort of program (for a fee, of course) that will protect their computer from threats. As if shelling out good money for these scams isn’t bad enough, it’s worsened by the fact that many of these products actually prevent real antivirus programs from operating properly. In fact, some even block users from being able to access websites and tools that could help them remove the bad program.
Since there are legitimate online virus scanners on the internet, how is it possible to distinguish them from the fake ones?
Typically, you won’t come across a real virus scanner accidentally since they usually require people to agree to a variety of terms and conditions before they are given access to the tool. Also, if you are a Mac user, a major clue might be that the scanner includes a “My Computer” window or some other pop up that is specific to Windows (for some reason, these scams tend to target PCs more often than Macs).
There are a number of great resources for more information.
Here is a list of some legitimate online scanners: