Know if your Windows Security Center is a virus or legitimate

Windows Security Center is a component of the Windows operating system, that was introduced by Microsoft in Windows XP and included in Windows Vista too. The program helped you keep a check on your system, by monitoring regularly the status of several security issues like:

  • Firewall settings. If Security Center finds the firewall is turned off, it will display a notification and put a Security Center icon in the notification area to prompt you to enable it, instantly
  • Windows automatic updating. Routinely checks for updates and installs them automatically
  • Antivirus software settings. Checks if your computer is using up-to-date antispyware and antivirus software
  • Internet security settings & User Account Control settings. Makes sure the settings are set at the recommended levels. If not, then, a notification is displayed along with a red shield in the notification area.

WIndows Security center

Besides these, the Security Center also provided links to troubleshooters and other tools to help you fix problems.

Is Windows Security Center a virus or legitimate ?

If you recall, Security Center upon detecting a security problem, alerted a user by displaying instantly a notification alongside a Security Center icon in the notification area. In Windows 7 and Windows 8, as you may be aware, the Action Center has replaced the Windows Security Center, but it too carries out a similar function.

Taking advantage of the trust that users had in the Security Center, and to confuse users, many malware writers and cybercriminals created several different malware that look like Security Center or have a similar or identical name. There have also been several cases of malware masquerading as Microsoft Security Essentials, pretending to be Windows Upgrade Advisors  and even Microsoft Update!

The programs that pretend to be Security Center might at best slow down your computer, or at worst lure you into a fraudulent transaction and steal your personal information. Hence they have been rightly categorized under malware called Rogue Security Software.

Rogue security software designers create legitimate looking pop-up windows that advertise security update software. These windows might appear on your screen while you surf the web. The “updates” or “alerts” in the pop-up windows call for you to take some sort of action, such as clicking to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, the rogue security software downloads to your computer, notes Microsoft.

Rogue Security Software is basically a counterfeit software program that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective, but in reality, it’s not. Rogue security software pretends as genuine security software but mostly generates erroneous or misleading alerts to scare you to partake in fraudulent transactions.

For instance, such software might report a virus, even though your computer is actually clean. The software, deliberately will fail to report viruses when your computer is infected or Inversely, sometimes, when you download it, the program will install a virus or other malicious software on your computer so that the software has something to detect.

You can spot the difference between real security warnings and fake security warnings by taking a quiz that Microsoft website recommends. Take this Microsoft quiz. It will not only tell you how smart you are as far as identifying online scams go, but it will also help you learn to tell if a security warning is from real antivirus software or from rogue security software.

Read: How to check for, prevent or remove Rogue Software.

There are some basic general precautions you can take to prevent rogues like the fake Windows Security Center or other rogue security software from getting entry into your computer.

  1. Install a firewall and keep it turned on. Windows XP users may want to read this post on securing Windows XP.
  2. Use automatic updating to keep your operating system and software up to date.
  3. Install antivirus and antispyware software and keep it updated.
  4. Use caution when you click links in email or on social networking websites.
  5. Use a standard user account instead of an administrator account.
  6. Learn more about and familiarize yourself with common phishing scams.

Read: Beginners Guide – Tips To Secure Windows.

If you think your Windows computer may have been infected with the fake Windows Security Center or other rogue security software, it is strongly advisable to run a full scan with your antivirus software, and if need be, use a good rogue remover software to remove the malware.

Useful links: Free Antivirus software | Firewall software Internet Security Suites for Windows.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.