Windows Defender will soon detect, remove cleaner scareware

By Shawn Knight · 16 replies
Jan 31, 2018
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  1. Microsoft is taking action against applications that use scare tactics to swindle money out of consumers.

    From March 1, Windows Defender and other Microsoft security products will classify programs that display “coercive messages” as unwanted software. Upon detection, such programs will be removed from the user’s system.

    Odds are, you’ve seen these types of programs in practice. Typically advertised as free computer cleaners or optimizers, offending programs “scan” your computer for viruses or errors then use alarming, coercive messages designed to scare users into purchasing a premium version of the program to “fix” the fabricated issues.

    In reality, it’s little more than a scam to swindle money from frightened users. Often times, such programs are malware themselves.

    Microsoft’s beef with such programs is that they can pressure customers into making unnecessary purchase decisions. As such, they are updating their evaluation criteria to specify that programs must not use coercive or alarming messages that can pressure consumers into making a purchase or performing other actions.

    Microsoft says software that coerces users may display the following characteristics, among others:

    • Reports errors in an exaggerated or alarming manner about the user’s system and requires the user to pay for fixing the errors or issues monetarily or by performing other actions such as taking a survey, downloading a file, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
    • Suggests that no other actions will correct the reported errors or issues
    • Requires the user to act within a limited period of time to get the purported issue resolved

    The move is in addition to earlier steps Microsoft has taken to regulate cleaner and optimizer programs including requiring them to provide users with detailed information about what purportedly needs to be fixed following a scan.

    Developers looking to validate the detection of their programs can do so via Microsoft’s Windows Defender Security Intelligence portal.

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  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,405   +1,497

    Just like we have math class, english classes, history classes. Part of the core curiculum in school should be basic computer maintenance. How to properly install something, how to use security software, ect. When I was in school our computer classes(unless you elected to take a higher course) was just using word and how to make power points. So much of this crap could be avoided if we actually taught people in school how they worked instead of just how to use them.

    maybe they are now, I don't know, but computers are such a large part of our lives we shouldn't expect people to know how to use them. Look at it this way, think of how much nicer the world would be if we actually taught everyone how to drive!
     
  3. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 259   +133

    Would be funny if it caught Windows 10 ads.
     
    Dustyn, wiyosaya, BSim500 and 3 others like this.
  4. seeprime

    seeprime TS Addict Posts: 148   +122

    The added detection's will be PUPs that programs like SuperAntiSpware and AdwCleaner catch and remove. Ads cannot be removed, only blocked with add-ons like uBlock Origin, and the like.
     
  5. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,963   +218

    Computer vs car analogies rarely work, but here sir you win 1000 internets for your analogy!
     
  6. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,524   +133

    Scan and block tracking cookies would be nice too...
     
  7. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 259   +133

    Was joking lol. I use spybot anti-beacon to rid myself of unwanted windows 10 stuff.
     
  8. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Addict Posts: 135   +53

    I applaud them in one sense, but in the other, they used pressure tactics to push Windows 10 on users who didn't want it. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. Not involving money doesn't matter.
     
  9. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,243   +1,371

    Ironic but I'd rather have the computers do the driving once autonomous cars advance enough. IMO, people will only become more ignorant of computers as time goes on. With the advent of AR and more and more advanced input devices, many experts are saying we are shifting from computer centric input methods to human centered input methods. In otherwords, devices that translate more natural human interaction into something a computer can understand. A keyboard for example, is not natural at all.
     
  10. ypsylon

    ypsylon TS Booster Posts: 121   +26

    It is a short way and slippery slope from detecting software like OOShut-up10 or Spybot Anti-Beacon as a 'coercive programs'. Euphemisms are such beautiful thing to solve the problem of naming things as they are.

    Make no mistake, I'm all for clearing that coercive malware from the internet, but M$ is hardly in a position to decide what is and what is not permitted on my PC - vide thousands and thousands of world-wide examples where Winblows Update removed some software from user PCs without user consent (including my humble person, some work related).

    Granted neither one of aforementioned programs use "coercive messages", but both do a lot to hurt M$ "coercive behaviour" by forcing people to upgrade to W10 and not to disable spyware built-in into the system itself.

    Basically W10 is one giant example of 'coercive message'. It promises a lot and gives you two middle fingers in return (with each major update basically requiring to do clean-install...). What's so different about W10 malware and 3rd party malware?

    Except price, NOTHING.
     
  11. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Addict Posts: 135   +53

    Thanks

    Exactly, Microsoft virtue signalling
     
  12. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 405   +701

    I have indeed... (Link)
     
  13. Opus

    Opus TS Enthusiast Posts: 50

    It never catches the malware but only flags competition.
     
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,131   +897

    Any virus scanner is far from being able to determine what should or should not run on my PC. There are the obvious exceptions that have been identified as viruses, however, the example I have is that virus scanners are now running algorithms that try to predict the fact that a program is a virus before it is actually added to the virus definitions file.

    The company I work for runs Smantec, and they have such an algorithm. I develop software for them, and the heuristic algorithm recently quarantined the 32-bit version of my program leaving the 64-bit untouched. Fortunately, I was able to exclude my build directory from scanning by Symantec. I am half tempted to uninstall the Symantec crapware, however, I imagine IT would come along, slap my hands, and reinstall it.
     
  15. Potato Judge

    Potato Judge TS Enthusiast Posts: 91   +31

    IIRC, this doesn't even activate itself on a fresh windows 7 install. You just get a prompt that your PC is unprotected.
     
  16. Ascaris

    Ascaris TS Addict Posts: 118   +84

    On Windows 7, you will have to go to the MS site and download "Microsoft Security Essentials" for this. The Windows Defender found in 7 and older Windows versions is not the same as Defender in 8.x and 10... it is much less capable product that is only meant to go after spyware, not malware in general.
     
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,355   +2,846

    Doesn't everyone think it's about damned time?
     

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