This Security Software Is Insecure! 5 Tools You Should Get Rid Of
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Security software isn’t perfect. Like any app, the developers sometimes accidentally introduce a bug or compromise a user’s safety with a flaw.

When these situations arise, we can forgive those responsible. Most of the time, the developers move swiftly and efficiently to fix any issues.

But some security software is downright dangerous. Perhaps it’s not been updated in years? Or more worryingly, perhaps it’s malware posing as a security suite?

In this piece, I’m going to list five “security” apps and tools that you need to delete right now.

1. Mac Defender

Also known as Mac Protector, Mac Security, Mac Guard, Mac Shield.

If you own a Mac, don’t listen to anyone who says you don’t need a security suite 7 Security Apps For Your Mac That Are Super Cheap Right Now 7 Security Apps For Your Mac That Are Super Cheap Right Now The apps on available in the massive Ultimate Mac Cyber Security Bundle make protecting your computer quite interesting. Read More . It wasn’t true a decade ago, and it’s not true now. Yes, there are fewer viruses and malware apps, but they do exist Mac Malware Is Real, Reddit Bans Racism... [Tech News Digest] Mac Malware Is Real, Reddit Bans Racism... [Tech News Digest] Unmasking Mac malware, the Reddit racism row, Apple Music users, YouTube moves on from 301+, Destiny drops Dinklage, and The Human Torch drone. Read More and their number is growing.

Hopefully, you’ve taken steps to protect yourself — but with any luck, you’ve not settled on Mac Defender Malware Disguised As Antivirus Targets Mac Users [News] Malware Disguised As Antivirus Targets Mac Users [News] A bogus version of the MacDefender antivirus application has recently fooled many Apple Mac OSX users into downloading and installing the malware on their computers. The fake antivirus, called MAC Defender, specifically targets Mac users... Read More as your solution.

The threat first became apparent in May 2011. Several reports have suggested it originated from Russia’s largest payment processor, ChronoPay.

Mac Defender

The scam is simple. If a user clicks a malicious link on the web, they receive a pop-up that claims their machine has a virus. The pop-up looks like an Apple window and urges the user to pay $59 for a license fee. If you pay, you can expect to quickly become a victim of credit card fraud.

Mac Defender also inserts links and ads for adult content onto innocent websites, making it dangerous for kids. Luckily, the app is not self-propagating.

2. Security Essentials 2010

Not to be confused with the entirely legitimate (if somewhat underwhelming) Microsoft Security Essentials, Security Essentials 2010 is a rogue anti-spyware program. It has close links to another well-known fake suite, internet Security 2010. It also originated in Russia.

It’s easy to accidentally install the software. It’s generally delivered by Trojans that fool users into thinking they represent an “essential Flash upgrade” for viewing online videos.

Security Essentials 2010

Obviously, it doesn’t install a Flash update. Instead, it will download and install lots of additional malware, including the Security Essentials 2010 installation package.

Once on your system, it will hound you with security warnings and virus alerts and ask you to install the software. If you give up and accept the demands, Security Essentials 2010 will run a scan and issue thousands of fake alerts, eventually prompting you to buy a license.

3. MS Antivirus

Also known as ANG Antivirus, XP Antivirus, Total Security, PC Defender Plus, AVASoft Professional Antivirus.

MS Antivirus is marginally less harmful than Security Essentials 2010 and Mac Defender. It will not steal a user’s information nor will it critically harm a system.

However, like the previous scams I’ve covered, it will frustrate you with endless pop-ups, security warnings, and payment prompts.

Security Warning Fake

Removing this type of malware can be tough; often it will protect itself by blocking any removal tools from running, claiming they have a virus. You will likely see a message like “Application cannot be executed. The file is infected. Please activate your antivirus software.”

To get around the problem, try running a tool like RKill.

4. Privacy Center

Also known as Safety Center, Privacy Components.

Privacy Center sounds like something you want on your machine, but it’s just more malware.

The scam is unique because it’s the only tool on this list that can run in Windows Safe Mode How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode Safe Mode is an inbuilt troubleshooting feature that allows you to fix issues at the root, without non-essential applications interfering. You can access Safe Mode in various ways, even if Windows 10 no longer boots. Read More . Its icon sits in the system tray but can grow to take over a significant portion of the desktop, often blocking the Start menu button. Closing the system tray icon is impossible. Many users have claimed their USB ports become unworkable when infected.

Safety Center

Users often install it when they click on a fake video codec prompt, though in recent years, people have reportedly found it packaged inside another piece of rogue security software called PC AntiSpyware.

5. WinFixer

WinFixer has not been active since 2009, but you might still have it on your system.

Its issue is the same as the other four tools: false positives and fake licenses. But what made this malware particularly troublesome was how easy it was to install. When you saw an on-screen pop-up incorrectly alerting you to the presence of viruses, clicking anywhere in the window or on the X icon would install the app.

WinFixer

As such, even if you knew the initial pop-up was a scam, you might still have unwittingly installed it. If you have an old computer that’s running extremely slowly, it’s worth checking to see if it’s hiding somewhere on your operating system.

Choose Your Security Suite Wisely

The apps I have discussed are all fake. But don’t think that just because you use a well-known “big brand” suite you will be safe Understanding How to Stay Safe Online in 2016 Understanding How to Stay Safe Online in 2016 Why do some users blindly wander the Internet with the bare minimum of online security software installed? Let's look at some commonly misconstrued security statements, and make the right security decisions. Read More .

Google’s Tavis Ormandy has reported vulnerabilities and bugs in MalwareBytes, Avast, TrendMicro, AVG, ESET, FireEye, and Kaspersky in the last two years.

The most famous bug he unearthed was the Comodo internet Security VNC server in May 2015. The server was running without a password, meaning hackers could theoretically access your machine over a network 7 Easy Screen-Sharing and Remote-Access Tools 7 Easy Screen-Sharing and Remote-Access Tools We show you 7 free tools that let you share a screen over the internet or gain remote access to a computer to troubleshoot technical issues. Read More .

Even once Comodo “fixed” it by adding a password, it was discovered the new password was nothing more than a combination of serial codes and product keys.

You can see all his discoveries on his Chromium page.

Have You Found Any Suspicious Apps?

Has reading this list set off any alarm bells inside your head? Have you discovered that you have some of this software installed on your machine? Make sure you delete it — now!

Now I want you to share your own tips and warnings. Have you come across any fake security apps I haven’t mentioned? Has an insecure security suite left you exposed to hackers and cyber-criminals?

Leave your stories in the comments section below.

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  1. Ann32
    March 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Ok, but what about good backup? Do u know maybe Xoperos solutions? I started use their product. Actually i am satisfied , but tell me if u know more backup solutions (for small company) or maybe you have some experience with Xopero too?

    • Gavin Phillips
      May 16, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      Hey Ann. It depends on what you're backing up. Are you backing up individual user accounts/systems, or going for a whole server backup?

  2. Ryan Stevens
    March 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Since I'm using Windows Defender its Microsoft Antivirus Software. It is good and free antivirus software still I'm using this software and never give me any problem. In Windows 8 and 10 you will get by default if you don't have Windows 8 or 10 then you can download from Microsoft sites its free software.

  3. Colin
    March 18, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I thought this article might be about real security software that was bad, not bad fake security software.

    • ReadandShare
      March 18, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      My own feel is that most all consumer-level security software is bad, in the sense of being ineffective - unless the user is so "lucky" to be hit by a virus that matches something on the software signatures list exactly. "Heuristics" meant to catch yet unknown baddies don't elicit much user confidence.