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Rogue Antivirus Software Removal and Detection Guide

What Is Rogue Antivirus Software?

Rogue antivirus software, also known as rogue antivirus, fake antivirus, and in some cases fake tech support, may not be classified as the biggest online threat but, if successfully installed, it has consequences. Consequences that vary, depending on the specific malicious campaign the rogue antivirus has been part of. Yes, rogue AV software doesn’t only flood you with fake pop-up warnings.

For example, we’ve witnessed several aggressive campaigns featuring fake tech support pages, exploit kits and ransomware as the final payload. Thousands of users in countries worldwide have been hit. Hopefully, next time the very same victims will know better not to click on suspicious pop-ups prompting them to visit unknown websites. If you’re wondering, fake tech support scams and fake AV programs have a lot in common. Both of the online scams try to take money from you, may harvest and abuse your personal and banking information, and may infect you with other forms of malware.


Rogue Antivirus Software Details

Name Rogue Antivirus Software
Type Rogue Antivirus Software / Fake Tech Support / Rogue Software / PUP
Short Description Types of programs that appear useful at first but can heavily damage the computer.
Symptoms Fake system scans and results, pop-up errors, additional downloads of unwanted programs, etc..
Distribution Method Bundled downloads. Web pages which may advertise it.
Detection Tool See If Your Device Has Been Affected by rogue antivirus programs


Malware Removal Tool

Things we will clarify in this article:

  • How to be sure you’ve been infected by a rogue AV program;
  • How rogue AV programs are propagated across the Web;
  • How to tell the difference between a real and a rogue security program;
  • How to clean your system after it has been ‘cleaned’ by a rogue AV product.

Rogue Security Software: What Are the Signs of infection?

Unfortunately, there are way too many rogue AV programs trying to extort users for money. Yes, you read correctly. In many ways, fake AV programs resemble ransomware – they will manipulate you into purchasing the full version of a (rogue) product. But first, you will be flooded with fake warnings. In that sense, rogue AV programs are also considered scareware.

There are several things to look for and keep in mind, like:

  • GUI (graphical user interface) that resembles legitimate AV programs but is in fact created by cyber crooks. Once the program is activated on your system, it will launch the GUI and will start “scanning” your system.
  • Shortly after that, the annoying scareware pop-ups will enter your screen. Often, these pop-ups imitate Windows security alerts;
  • The final stage is where you will be prompted to type in your banking information to pay for the full version of the program. Needless to say, the second you share your credit card number, you become vulnerable to cyber fraud of all kinds.

Also, keep in mind that a fake AV program may also act like a browser hijacker and take over your browsers. If you notice that your browser’s homepage has been replaced with the ‘official’ page of a suspicious security product, be sure that you have rogue AV and (quite possibly) other malware draining your system.

How Do Fake AV Programs Sneak into Your Computer?

Like most forms of cyber fraud, rogue security software has evolved quite a lot. For instance, the well-known SpySheriff (depicted below) dates back to 2007. SpySheriff was ‘advertised’ as an anti-spyware program while in fact it was the spyware itself.


Image Source: Microsoft

This has been the case with many other fake security products, then and now. In other words, you could have downloaded the program yourself, believing it was a useful and truthful one.

The distribution methods deployed by cyber crooks to propagate their rogue products aren’t that different from the ways malware is spread across the Web (both on desktop and mobile devices):

  • Web navigation. In such a case, you will be displayed a fake pop-up alert claiming that your machine is infected. Then, you will be prompted to purchase and download whatever rogue AV program you landed on. This is the scareware tactics we already described. Often, fake pop-up warnings say that you need to download system updates or missing drivers, or that you need to remove the malware ‘found’ by the rogue. Once you are tricked into clicking on the pop-up, you will have a rogue AV.
  • SEO poisoning. Have you heard of it? It’s a common method used by fraudsters and malicious coders. SEO poisoning would push ahead bad links on top of the search results on search engines. If you don’t pay much attention to the links in your results, you may easily be fooled, especially when corrupted links are situated among legitimate security vendors. Next time, just be extra cautious whenever you do a search using keywords such as ‘free antivirus scan’.
  • Email, phishing, spam. The three often come together. Think twice before opening a suspicious and unexpected email. If you’ve already opened such an email, don’t click on any links. However, it may be too late. Malware may have already entered your system, the second you opened the email.
  • Drive-by downloads. Like any other malware, rogue AV programs can be propagated via drive-by downloads that don’t acquire user interaction. Such downloads usually exploit known vulnerabilities in software. That’s why it’s crucial to keep all of your programs up-to-date. Your operating system included.
  • Online video streaming websites. Be careful, if you watch videos on random websites. You will be likely prompted to download a supposedly missing codec to play that video. Instead, you may download a rogue program or some other form of adware or worse, malware.
  • Fake updates. Rogue security programs may be masqueraded as (fake) updates, mostly Java or Flash. If you’re viewing fake pop-ups while browsing, be aware that your system has become a target of online fraudsters.
  • Peer-to-peer communities. And torrents. Don’t download anything from untrusted p2p pages, be it free or cracked software products, movies, or music. Or whatever you’re seeking to download for free.
  • Botnets. Botnets, consisting of thousands of bot-infected PCs, are mostly used to send out spam in various malicious campaigns. However, researchers at SecureWorks warn that botnets are also deployed to download rogue AV programs onto users’ machines. According to researchers, it’s a proven method to monetize a certain botnet.

How to Improve Your Protection against Rogue AVs?

Firstly, when you land on a page that tries too hard to persuade you to download a certain product, inspect it closely.

Is the website written in perfect English (or whatever language it is written in)? Typos, wrong letter capitalization and spelling mistakes serve as an indication not only of poor grammar but also of rogue intentions. If the software developers were truly dedicated to their product and its promotion, they wouldn’t have made all those mistakes.

Here’s an example:


As visible, those phrases don’t make any sense. Downloading the product won’t make any, either.

How to Remove Rogue Antivirus Software

If it’s too late and you already have a rogue AV program constantly scanning your system and flooding you with annoying pop-up alerts, refer to the steps below.

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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  • Stop Push Pop-ups

How to Remove rogue antivirus programs from Windows.

Step 1: Scan for rogue antivirus programs with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1.1 Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.

It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.

1.2 After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter Install and Scan for Viruses Step 1

1.3 After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter Install and Scan for Viruses Step 2

1.4 After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter Install and Scan for Viruses Step 3

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.

Step 2: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode

2.1 Hold Windows key + R

2.2 The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.
boot your pc in safe mode step 1

2.3 Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".

boot your pc in safe mode step 2

Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.

2.4 When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.
boot your pc in safe mode step 3

2.5 You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.
boot your pc in safe mode step 4

Step 3: Uninstall rogue antivirus programs and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:

3.1 Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.

boot your pc in safe mode step 5

3.2 In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.

boot your pc in safe mode step 6

3.3 This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
boot your pc in safe mode step 7Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.

Step 4: Clean Any registries, Created by rogue antivirus programs on Your PC.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by rogue antivirus programs there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

4.1 Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.
clean malicious registries step 1

4.2 When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.

clean malicious registries step 2

4.3 You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.

clean malicious registries step 3 Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

Video Removal Guide for rogue antivirus programs (Windows).

Get rid of rogue antivirus programs from Mac OS X.

Step 1: Uninstall rogue antivirus programs and remove related files and objects

1.1 Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
uninstall virus from mac step 1

1.2 Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:

uninstall virus from mac step 2

1.3 In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to rogue antivirus programs:

uninstall virus from mac step 3

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.

uninstall virus from mac step 4

1.4 Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.

1.5 In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to rogue antivirus programs. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.

uninstall virus from mac step 5

1.6 Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference.

Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to rogue antivirus programs. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.

1.7 Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove rogue antivirus programs via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

uninstall virus from mac step 6

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

uninstall virus from mac step 7

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as rogue antivirus programs. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

uninstall virus from mac step 8

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.

Step 2: Scan for and remove rogue antivirus programs files from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as rogue antivirus programs, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.

Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for rogue antivirus programs:


SpyHunter for Mac

Video Removal Guide for rogue antivirus programs (Mac)

Remove rogue antivirus programs from Google Chrome.

Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu

Google Chrome removal guide step 1

Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"

Google Chrome removal guide step 2

Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.

Google Chrome removal guide step 3

Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.

Erase rogue antivirus programs from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window:

Mozilla Firefox removal guide step 1

Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.

Mozilla Firefox removal guide step 2

Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"

Mozilla Firefox removal guide step 3

Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.

Uninstall rogue antivirus programs from Microsoft Edge.

Step 1: Start Edge browser.

Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.

Edge Browser removal guide step 2

Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".

Edge Browser removal guide step 3

Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.

Edge Browser removal guide step 4

Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.

Edge Browser removal guide step 5

Remove rogue antivirus programs from Safari

Step 1: Start the Safari app.

Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.

Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

Safari browser removal guide step 3

Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

Safari browser removal guide step 4

Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.

Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

Safari browser removal guide step 5

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the rogue antivirus programs will be removed.

How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.

Eliminate rogue antivirus programs from Internet Explorer.

Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.

Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'

Internet Explorer browser removal guide step 2

Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Internet Explorer browser removal guide step 3

Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.

Internet Explorer browser removal guide step 4

Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.

Remove Push Notifications from Your Browsers

Turn Off Push Notifications from Google Chrome

To disable any Push Notices from Google Chrome browser, please follow the steps below:

Step 1: Go to Settings in Chrome.

Google Chrome - Disable Push Notifications Step 1

Step 2: In Settings, select “Advanced Settings”:

Google Chrome - Disable Push Notifications Step 2

Step 3: Click “Content Settings”:

Google Chrome - Disable Push Notifications Step 3

Step 4: Open “Notifications”:

Google Chrome - Disable Push Notifications Step 4

Step 5: Click the three dots and choose Block, Edit or Remove options:

Google Chrome - Disable Push Notifications Step 5

Remove Push Notifications on Firefox

Step 1: Go to Firefox Options.

Mozilla Firefox - Disable Push Notifications Step 1

Step 2: Go to “Settings”, type “notifications” in the search bar and click "Settings":

Mozilla Firefox - Disable Push Notifications Step 2

Step 3: Click “Remove” on any site you wish notifications gone and click “Save Changes”

Mozilla Firefox - Disable Push Notifications Step 3

Stop Push Notifications on Opera

Step 1: In Opera, press ALT+P to go to Settings.

Opera - Disable Push Notifications Step 1

Step 2: In Setting search, type “Content” to go to Content Settings.

Opera - Disable Push Notifications Step 2

Step 3: Open Notifications:

Opera - Disable Push Notifications Step 3

Step 4: Do the same as you did with Google Chrome (explained below):

Opera - Disable Push Notifications Step 4

Eliminate Push Notifications on Safari

Step 1: Open Safari Preferences.

Safari Browser - Disable Push Notifications Step 1

Step 2: Choose the domain from where you like push pop-ups gone and change to "Deny" from "Allow".

rogue antivirus programs-FAQ

What Is rogue antivirus programs?

The rogue antivirus programs threat is adware or browser redirect virus.

It may slow your computer down significantly and display advertisements. The main idea is for your information to likely get stolen or more ads to appear on your device.

The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your computer to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your OS.

What Are the Symptoms of rogue antivirus programs?

There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also unwanted apps in general are active:

Symptom #1: Your computer may become slow and have poor performance in general.

Symptom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.

Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.

Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.

Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Task Manager.

If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts recommend that you check your computer for viruses.

What Types of Unwanted Programs Are There?

According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently affect your Mac can be the following types:

  • Rogue Antivirus programs.
  • Adware.
  • Browser hijackers.
  • Clickers.
  • Fake optimizers.

What to Do If I Have a "virus" like rogue antivirus programs?

With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:

Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.

Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your email passwords.

Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.

Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activities with your card.

Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.

Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.

Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.

Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.

Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.

If you follow these recommendations, your network and all devices will become significantly more secure against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.

How Does rogue antivirus programs Work?

Once installed, rogue antivirus programs can collect data about your web browsing habits, such as the websites you visit and the search terms you use. This data is then used to target you with ads or to sell your information to third parties.

rogue antivirus programs can also download other malicious software onto your computer, such as viruses and spyware, which can be used to steal your personal information and show risky ads, that may redirect to virus sites or scams.

Is rogue antivirus programs Malware?

The truth is that PUPs (adware, browser hijackers) are not viruses, but may be just as dangerous since they may show you and redirect you to malware websites and scam pages.

Many security experts classify potentially unwanted programs as malware. This is because of the unwanted effects that PUPs can cause, such as displaying intrusive ads and collecting user data without the user’s knowledge or consent.

About the rogue antivirus programs Research

The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this rogue antivirus programs how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific, adware-related problem, and restore your browser and computer system.

How did we conduct the research on rogue antivirus programs?

Please note that our research is based on independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware, adware, and browser hijacker definitions.
Furthermore, the research behind the rogue antivirus programs threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand this online threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.

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