I have XP Professional with SP3. I’m certain you’ve answered this somewhere,
but I don’t know where. All of a sudden, a message appears on my screen from out
of nowhere, telling me that my system is not clean and needs cleaning. If this
were in an email, it’d be no problem to block or delete, but I’m absolutely puzzled by
just how out of nowhere this message appears on my desktop. Of course, I can
cancel it, but how does it get there? Is it related to Skype?
I don’t believe it’s related to Skype.
There are two paths that I want to investigate here.
- One is: If you’re in your web browser, what you may be seeing is nothing more than a pop-up window from the website that you’re visiting.
So, definitely pay attention to whether or not what you’re seeing is in a web browser or if it is happening as the result of something you’re doing in your web browser.
- The scarier answer is that you’ve already got malware… and that malware is basically a little foot in the door that’s trying to scare you into buying a specific product to fix a problem that’s not really there.
It’s a very common technique. Some of the worst malware infections we’ve seen in recent times have in fact been because this software is so convincing. It looks so real.
It’s a trick
The error message seems legitimate. What happens, though, is you end up downloading the recommended solution to this particular problem. My guess is what you’re seeing says, “Click here to purchase this product,” or “Download a product that will clear up this problem that we’re telling you you have.”
Chances are when you download that product and install it, that then will install – not necessarily a cleaning product – but a truckload of malware. It’s some bad stuff that will probably infect your system even worse.
Do not respond
My recommendation in a situation like this is never, ever download what is recommended in an unexpected pop-up window. Never.
Instead, use your own tools.
Run up-to-date scans immediately.
Clean your machine
Consider running an up-to-date scan from the tool out at Malwarebytes.org. It’s a free tool for individual use. Run that.
If you need to, run Windows Defender offline, which is a CD that you burn and boot from. It will run a Microsoft Security Essentials equivalent from the CD without Windows running.
Then consider running something, maybe, CCleaner, to further clean up your machine.
Feels like malware
Ultimately, this message feels like malware to me and I believe it needs to be treated as malware. That means treating your machine as if it’s already infected and taking the steps necessary to rid it of that malware.
Next from Answercast 31 – How do I stop this disgusting email from being sent to me?