Pranking your friends and family is the best sort of fun. And there is nothing wrong with a harmless prank, especially if the victim is anyone but you.
These days, we’re constantly plugged into our laptops, tablets, or smartphones. So, what better way to one-up your partner or siblings than seemingly destroying their hard drive with a fake virus? Although the following fake viruses may seem malicious to the unsuspecting, they’re wholly sanitized: no harm will come to the system they’re deployed on.
With so many types of viruses, there’s plenty of inspiration to imitate. It is time to sit back, and watch someone squirm!
1. How to Make a Fake Virus Batch File
There are numerous variations of this prank. A batch file can be easily programmed to spit out a long stream of nonsensical or malicious-sounding commands, displayed on screen for the victim to see. In that, it makes for one of the most effective pranks because it looks somewhat like serious system changes are taking place, delivered in the Command Prompt.
Start by downloading our pre-prepared code. When prompted, head to File > Save As. Set the Save as type to All Files. Then, give your file a nifty, intriguing name—remember, you want your potential victim to execute the file—and add the .bat extension. This extension turns your standard text document into a batch file whose commands will run when the victim opens the file.
The batch file will display the messages in sequence, then start an automatic shutdown sequence.
You can stop the automatic shutdown by hitting Windows Key + R, then typing shutdown /a.
Fake Blue Screen of Death
A fake virus might upset your victim, or confuse them. Another handy prank file is the fake Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). A fake BSOD simulates a full system crash, down to the final blue screen.
We’ve also prepared this code for you. Download bsod.txt, and rename the file, adding the .bat file extension.
Change Your File Icon
To add realism to your fake files, I would suggest changing the default file icon for the batch file. The “cog” icon is intriguing, but a sensible person will leave the unknown file well alone.
You can change the file icon to the Chrome browser icon—an altogether more trustworthy proposition.
Right-click the fake virus batch file and select Send to > Desktop (create shortcut). Now, head to your desktop, right-click the newly created shortcut and select Properties > Change Icon. Browse to your Google Chrome directory (mine is C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome), select Application, then Chrome.exe. Press OK.
You’ll now spot several Chrome icons. Use the “standard” Chrome icon, press OK > Apply > OK.
The next time the victim selects Chrome from their Desktop, the fake BSOD program will run… and hilarity will ensue.
2. EICAR Test File
This test file, while completely harmless, will trigger most antivirus suites and prompt the user to take evasive action.
The EICAR test file is an internationally recognized antivirus test. As such, your antivirus will act quickly to rid your system of the “threat.” Unfortunately, it will also immediately notify the victim that the virus signature matches “EICAR Test Signature,” somewhat removing the fun.
3. Fake Update
Windows 10 has taken some time to move past the bad press surrounding its enforced update system. Previous to Windows 10, users could choose the time and place of their update. Windows 10 changed all that and, in the early days of the new operating system, many users found their system updating without warning.
FakeUpdate preys on that background fear, allowing you to switch the victim’s browser to a slow-moving Windows 10 update. Head to the linked site, select the update screen you’d like (consider what their operating system is), then press F11 to enter full-screen mode.
Want an extra devious bonus? As you’ll be delivering this prank in person, when your victim exclaims that “the update is taking a long time,” you can helpfully suggest that pressing Enter usually speeds the process—only for that to trigger a fake BSOD!
The site includes old versions of Windows, as well as some common ransomware screens, too.
4. Create a Personalized Error Message Prank
Finally, you can create a personalized error message prank sequence for your victim. First, open Notepad.
Now, type the following:
x=msgbox("YOUR MESSAGE HERE", Button+Icon, "YOUR TITLE HERE")
Type your prank/scary/humorous message in the first section, and add a title for the dialog box in the second.
I’ll explain the buttons and icons now. In the code snippet above, the error message button and icon are represented by “o+48.” Buttons are the options available to the victim.
Select from the following:
- 0 — OK
- 1 — OK and Cancel
- 2 — Abort, Retry, and Ignore
- 3 — Yes, No, and Cancel
- 4 — Yes and No
- 5 — Retry and Cancel
Also, you can choose the icon that appears alongside the error messages:
- 0 — No icon
- 16 — Critical icon
- 32 — Question mark icon
- 48 — Warning icon
- 64 — Information icon
In the example “fake error sequence” above, the button option is “0” for OK, and “48” to add the Warning icon.
When you’re all set, head to File > Save As and choose a filename. Replace the .txt file extension with .vbs. Then, change the Save as type to All Files, and press Save. You can follow the icon change tutorial detailed earlier to complete your deceit.
Now, if you’d like to add another error message in sequence, add another line to your Notepad file, altering the message and dialog box title if required. In the image below you can see a new error message, using “0” to display the OK button, and “64” to display the Information icon. Play around with your favorite combinations, then save the file (as above) when you’re done.
Note: Here’s how you spot fake malware warnings.
Now, Execute Your Fake Virus Prank
When you execute the prank, I think it would be considerate to keep an eye on your victim (if you can). It’s all fun and games until someone has a panic attack and throws their computer through a window.
While pranking your friends is fun, note that real malware and fake tech support are on the rise.