Error code 0x00AEM0D1489 – “Windows Update cannot continue as your software copy is Expired/Corrupt. Please enter a valid product key to continue” – this is what users see after the malicious process “Microsoft.exe” locks their screen, pretending to be Windows Update. This is classified as a Tech Support scam because it points out to call a number to fix the nonexistent issue. However, the difference here is that the scammers mean business, installing a Lockscreen type of Trojan on the compromised computer.
|Name||Windows Lock Screen Virus|
|Short Description||The threat pretends to be Windows Update, but locks down the user from his computer after which demands to call tech support “representatives” to help. Most likely a scam to drain money.|
|Symptoms||You will see a “Configuring Updates” screen after which a screen showing that you activation key for Windows has expired. Usually they ask you to call tech support.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages, Via malvertising.|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Windows Lock Screen Virus.|
Windows Update Lock Screen – How Did I Get It
The Trojan is believed to infect computers via a rogue PC cleaning software, named PC Cleaner. Similar to other rogue programs such as System Healer, PC Clean Pro . Such misleading software may exhibit rogue behavior and automatically scan your computer. It appears that users may have been misled that they are downloading a legitimate software to help them clean their computer, and it has installed the malware on their PC. The other scenario is that the program has most likely automatically slipped onto the victim computer.
Windows Update Lock Screen In Detail
Once it has infected your computer, during installation, the malware has been reported by Symantec to create similar to the following files in key Windows locations:
→ In %WinDir%:
In %Program Files%\PC Cleaner Inc\PC Cleaner:
In addition to that, the virus creates a run value to make the “Microsoft.exe” process run on system log on. This is done if the following registry entries are modified:
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\”Shell” = “microsoft.exe”
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot\”AlternateShell” = “microsoft.exe”
After the files and registry entries have been created, the tech support scam malware gets right down to business. It begins by connecting to the malicious domain of the cyber-criminals controlling it:
After being connected, the ransom lock Trojan begins to send information to the criminals’ domain:
- PC name.
- MAC addresses.
- Operating System Information.
- Region and Time Zone Information.
After doing so, the Trojan may log the user out of his Windows account and display an “Update In Process” message, similar to the following:
After this is “complete” Symantec report that the ransomware immediately locks down the user from his computer and displays the following message:
The message resembles an official Windows lock screen virus that explains to the user he has to call a tech support number for more information. The main concern according to the message is that the product key of the user PC has expired. The scamming number to contact has been reported to be 1-844-872-8686 – a number that has been reported to be associated with other scams of such type by ESG researchers.
Stop Windows Update Lock Screen and Remove It for Free
To stop this Lock Screen, you should first press the following key combination:
This combination will make sure the lock screen is temporary removed. After this, we strongly advise you to isolate this Trojan by entering safe mode and scanning your computer with an advanced anti-malware software. There is the manual option of finding the malicious files that are reported in this article after which manually removing them, using the manual instructions below. These may help you effectively deal with the Windows Update Trojan permanently.
- Guide 1: How to Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of Windows Lock Screen Virus from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase Windows Lock Screen Virus from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall Windows Lock Screen Virus from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate Windows Lock Screen Virus from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Windows Lock Screen Virus
Step 2: Uninstall Windows Lock Screen Virus 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.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Windows Lock Screen Virus on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Windows Lock Screen Virus there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of Windows Lock Screen Virus from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall Windows Lock Screen Virus and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- 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 Windows Lock Screen Virus 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:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove Windows Lock Screen Virus files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as Windows Lock Screen Virus, 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.
Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus from Google Chrome.
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
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 Windows Lock Screen Virus from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
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 Windows Lock Screen Virus from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove Windows Lock Screen Virus 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".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Windows Lock Screen Virus will be removed.
Eliminate Windows Lock Screen Virus 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'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
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'.
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.