This stuff should be outlawed. A certain web site lies to you in an attempt to sell you some worthless anti-virus software.
I recently visited a new web site I had not seen before. A pop-up window appeared and warned that my computer system might be infected with a virus. It asked if I wanted to perform a virus scan. I dislike pop-up ads and never buy anything from such obnoxious advertising methods. I clicked on "Cancel." The system seemingly ignored my cancel request and then appeared to launch a disk scan of my system. Three or four seconds later, the "disk scan" completed, and dire warnings appeared with lots of words in a bright red font. The pop-up was labeled as an "Online Windows security scanner," and it claimed that my computer was infected with viruses.
I was immediately suspicious: there is no way that any program can scan my 250 gigabyte hard drive in only 3 or 4 seconds. A proper scan of that much data would require several minutes.
The warning listed several DLL files (dynamic link libraries) that were supposedly infected with viruses and then also said that my copy of Internet Explorer 7 was infected with a virus. The warning also listed several programs as Windows spyware products installed on my system. Finally, it claimed:
Total infected files detected: 45
The pop-up window recommended that I purchase a virus removal tool from the company that created the disk scan in order to "protect my system."
There is but one problem: I was using a Macintosh. Macintosh systems don't have DLL files and cannot run Internet Explorer 7, a Windows-only program! In other words, there is no copy of Internet Explorer on the system, and there are no DLL files there either. There are also no Windows spyware programs running as the system won't run Windows programs. This "Online Windows security scanner" pop-up ad claimed that I had viruses in programs that do not exist on my system!
The ad also had a prominent image of a locked padlock and the words "Encrypted Secure Site." However, a quick check of the web browser shows that it isn't encrypted. The ad lies to you.
The ad is a scam, designed to frighten people who are not computer experts into purchasing a worthless piece of software they do not need. The pop-up claimed to be an "Online Windows security scanner," but it really isn't a scanner at all. It isn't even a Windows program.
Most of the people who encounter this scam will be Windows users, and some number of them will believe what the advertisement claims. Some will even purchase the worthless service the company sells.
This type of scan is referred to as “scareware:” the advertisement tries to scare you into purchasing something you don't need.
Here's my advice:
1. If you have a Windows system, always run anti-virus software and keep it up to date. (Many people purchase and install anti-virus software, then never update it. That's a waste of money; if you don't update it daily or weekly, then why bother to even purchase it?)
2. There are many reputable anti-virus programs available. Never purchase one from an unknown source or from any advertisement that suddenly pops up on your system.
3. If any ad or service claims that you have a virus, consider that to be a POSSIBILITY, not a fact. Then obtain a proper anti-virus scan from an independent source and check it out.
NOTE: There is a great FREE anti-virus scanning service available at http://housecall.trendmicro.com. Use that to scan your Windows system, not a product from an unknown company that pops up advertising on your system. (You can easily verify the worthiness of http://housecall.trendmicro.com in a quick search on Google or any other search engine; lots of virus experts recommend it.) Never accept the word of an advertisement that appears on your system; always get a second opinion.
4. If a pop-up ad for anything suddenly appears on your screen, hang onto your wallet tightly. Not all pop-ups are scams, but many of them are. Whether it is a scam or not, pop-ups are an obnoxious advertising technique. Do you really want to do business with a company that uses such intrusive advertisements in an attempt to sell you something you really didn't want?
The world is full of con artists. Some of them will claim that you have viruses and spyware. Don't believe them; get a second opinion before spending any money.