Here’s a Super Simple Trick to Defeating Fake Anti-Virus Malware

By Lowell Heddings on February 10th, 2011


You might be wondering why we have a screenshot of what appears to be AVG Anti-Virus, but is in fact a fake anti-virus malware that holds your computer hostage until you pay them. Here’s a really simple tip to defeating these types of malware, and a quick review of other options.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Be sure to check out our previous articles on cleaning up fake antivirus infections.

So what’s the problem? Can’t you just run a anti-virus scan? Well… it’s not quite that simple. What actually happens is that these pieces of malware block you from running almost anything on your PC, and often prevent you from running apps from a Flash drive, with an error like this:


Once you encounter this error, there’s a couple things you can do. The first one is almost stupidly simple, and works some of the time:

Move the Dialog, and Try Again!

Yeah, that’s right—reader Robert wrote in to tell us that you can often just move that error to the side of the screen, and then try to run your anti-malware or anti-spyware application again. Turns out that some of the errors will only run once… and then you can get your favorite application running.


If that doesn’t work, then here’s the next great tip…

Rename Your Anti-Malware App to Explorer.exe

Since most of the fake anti-virus malware needs you to be able to slightly use your PC, the one executable that it won’t ever block is “explorer.exe”, since they want you to be able to get online and go to their site and pay them—not so easy if you have no Start Menu.

So just rename your favorite anti-malware application to explorer.exe, and you should be able to use it.


Thanks to reader Jeffrey for writing in with this tip.

General Guide to Defeating Fake Anti-Virus Infections

There’s a couple of steps that you can generally follow to get rid of the majority of rogue antivirus infections, and actually most malware or spyware infections of any type. Here’s the quick steps:

These steps generally work.

Can’t Even Boot Anymore? Here’s Your Solution


All you have to do is use a repair disk from one of the anti-virus manufacturers, who have each created downloadable ISO images that you can burn to a CD, or install onto a USB flash drive. Boot from it, run a scan, and then your PC will be clean.

We prefer using the BitDefender CD, since it’s automated and simple, but it couldn’t hurt to use more than one if necessary… so why not combine a bunch of recovery tools together? Here’s how:

How to Combine Rescue Disks to Create the Ultimate Windows Repair Disk

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/10/11
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