Fake Error Messages
What Is a Fake Error Message?
A fake error message is not a genuine malware threat by itself. It is more like a gateway to a bigger problem provided the targeted user takes action prompted by the message. There are several ways to refer to these types of messages. They can be called fake error messages, fake warning messages, fake virus alerts, fake security messages, and so on. All of them are there to scam and trick users into performing a certain action that is sure to have unwanted consequences. These messages usually pop up in order to trick a user into downloading and installing some rogue security software. Eventually, a user is supposed to purchase the full version of said software, literally giving their money away to the cybercriminals.
Where Do Fake Error Messages Come From?
Fake warning messages usually reach users through pop-ups when they browse unreliable websites. Fake error messages could pop up onto the victim’s screen in an independent window or a message box. If this fake message reaches the potential victim through a website, the chances are that there are no dangerous programs installed on the user’s computer yet. They can just close the website and ignore the message.
On the other hand, if the fake error message pops up in an individual message box, it is very likely that there is a potentially unwanted program installed on the target system, and that program generates the fake error message. If that is the case, users have to run a full system scan with a powerful anti-malware tool to detect all the potential threats present and remove them at once.
Fake Error Messages Examples
To give you a better idea of what fake error messages are and how to recognize them, we have prepared two staple examples of the genre.
For instance, the Error Code 022-100-006 Fake Alert was first reported in 2018. These fake error messages are short-lived, but they tend to come in waves, and they often have certain things in common. As you can see, the Error Code 022-100-006 Fake Alert comes with a sequence of numerals that is supposed to make it look reliable. That is so because operating system error messages often have such error codes, and unsuspecting users are more likely to believe that the fake error message is real if it comes with a similar error code (even if it means nothing). The message itself that this fake alert used to display is the following:
The problem is caused by an unusual activity performed on this machine. Error code – 022-100-006. Customer support number 1-800-957-031 and share this code with the agent.
As you can see, right after the main scare – the error message, the notification calls for action, where the victim is urged to call customer support. Users who end up calling these fake customer support numbers often end up being swindled out of their money. Sometimes you do not even need to have malware installed on your PC. In the case of the Error Code 022-100-006 Fake Alert, the message used to be displayed while browsing the web. Hence, users could have easily avoided the problem by closing the pop-up.
Another very similar example of a fake error message is the ‘ERROR # MS-SYSINFO32’ Pop-ups. This fake error message follows a pattern used by the previously described alert, but this one does not get displayed on particular websites. At the height of its wave in 2019, ‘ERROR # MS-SYSINFO32’ Pop-ups would be displayed on the affected system because of potentially unwanted programs, adware, or browser hijackers that had managed to enter the target systems. Hence, to get rid of the fake error messages, users had to remove all the potential threats first.
Aside from that, ‘ERROR # MS-SYSINFO32’ Pop-ups followed the same fake alert patterns in the messages they displayed. Here is an extract from one of them:
**Microsoft Warning Alert**
ERROR # MS-SYSINFO32
Please call us immediately at: +1-888-911-0311
Do not ignore this critical alert.
If you close this page, your computer access will be disabled to prevent further damage to our network.
Once again, it utilizes the use of a “code” that should make it look techie and trustworthy. There is also a call for action and the phone number the victims should use to call the “customer service.” This fake alert informs the user of a supposed malware infection and why the user must contact them immediately.
Needless to say, this is a scam devised to exploit innocent victims. Whether you have encountered the pop-up online or you have a fake antispyware program on-board, you need to take care of this issue at once.
How to Deal with Fake Error Messages?
If you received a fake error message through a browser pop-up, sometimes closing the window alone may not be enough. Consider closing the entire browser and then restarting it to continue surfing the web. If the pop-up does not allow you to close the browser, try using the Alt + F4 key combination to end the browser’s process.
If the fake error message is generated by a software application running on your device, you have to remove that app. Sometimes it can be hard to determine which apps are responsible for the fake alerts you see. Then, you should employ an anti-malware program that would remove all the potential threats automatically.
When you deal with fake error messages, you have to remember that no software will ever offer you to take care of a specifically identified problem. Reliable security applications and their vendors will list several general problems that they can solve. So, if a new alert tells you to contact customer service because of some specific reason, you might want to close that message at once.
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