You can’t always trust pop-up messages indicating your computer or device has been infected with a virus. While there are dozens of legitimate antivirus products that notify victims about infections via pop-up messages, others are designed to show fake virus messages. Known as rogue security software, it’s a widespread problem for businesses and consumers alike. What is rogue security software exactly, and how can you prevent it from affecting your computer or device?

Overview of Rogue Security Software

Rogue security software is a form of malware that’s designed to trick victims into thinking their computer or device has been infected with a virus. Like legitimate antivirus products, it displays pop-up messages telling the victim that his or her computer or device has been infected with a virus. With rogue security software, however, there is no virus present.

The Dangers of Rogue Security Software

If your computer or device is infected with rogue security software, it could cost you a substantial amount of money — assuming you fall for the trap. Rogue security software typically doesn’t steal data. Instead, it’s designed to trick you into paying for a fake removal service. After displaying a fake virus message, the software will contain instructions on how to clean your computer or device. Normally, the rogue security software will ask you to pay for a premium virus removal service or tool.

Like with ransomware, though, there’s no guarantee that paying the requested sum of money will remove the rogue security software. After making payment, the rogue security software may ask you pay for an additional service or tool.

Allowing rogue security software to go unchecked may also cause performance issues with your computer or device. After all, rogue security software is must convince victims that their computer or device is infected with a virus. Therefore, it often slows down computers or devices.

How to Protect Against Rogue Security Software

You can protect against rogue security software by taking a more cautious approach to downloading software over the internet. Rogue security software is typically deployed via conventional file downloads. If you download files from an untrusted website, your computer or device may become infected with rogue security software.

Running legitimate antivirus software on your computer or device can also protect it from rogue security software. As a form of malware, rogue security software is targeted by legitimate antivirus products. They’ll not only catch rogue security software; legitimate antivirus products will remove it so that it doesn’t trigger fake virus pop-ups.