Have you encountered a pop-up message indicating that your computer is infected with malware? While legitimate antivirus software may use pop-up notifications such as this, it’s a common tactic with scareware as well. Scareware isn’t legitimate antivirus software. Rather, the term “scareware” refers to any software that uses scare tactics to trick users into downloading other software. Here are five telltale signs of scareware.

#1) Fake Progress Bar

Scareware will often feature a fake progress bar. It may look like it’s scanning your computer for malware, and the scareware will even show the progress of this malware scan. But it’s not a real progress bar. Scareware will typically display a fake progress bar that devices users into thinking their computers are really being scanned.

#2) Hundreds or Thousands of Infected Files

After the fake progress bar has reached 100%, scareware may reveal that your computer has hundreds or even thousands of infected files. Upon seeing all of these infected files, you may feel compelled to purchase antivirus software. This is how scareware works. It tricks you into downloading other software, such as antivirus software.

#3) Links to Commercial Software

There are different types of scareware, but most of them link to commercial software. They will warn you that your computer is infected with malware, and to resolve the infected files, you’ll need to download commercial software. If you discover a pop-up on your computer with a warning such as this, it may be scareware. Scareware will typically link to commercial software. Purchasing the commercial software, of course, isn’t necessary since your computer isn’t really infected with malware.

#4) Difficult to Remove

Scareware can be difficult to remove. Some types of scareware are designed to conceal themselves on victims’ storage drives. If you navigate to the apps and programs section of Windows, you may not see them. As a result, they are difficult to remove. And even if you’re able to delete scareware, it may return. Some types of scareware are designed to create copies of themselves upon deletion.

#5) Flashing Lights

Another telltale sign of scareware is flashing lights. Scareware is designed to look like legitimate antivirus software. Upon completing its fake scan, though, it will display a notification indicating that your computer is infected with malware. This notification may feature flashing lights. The purpose of these flashing lights is to attract your attention while simultaneously scaring you. Legitimate antivirus software typically doesn’t use flashing lights, or does it use scare tactics.