Windows users are all too familiar with the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). It's when your PC crashes, locking you out with cryptic white-on-blue text stuffed chock full of technical gibberish. Simply put, a BSOD means your Windows machine has a "problem."
We have previously warned you that the BSOD could be a gateway for hackers. It looks like those fears are coming true.
A new fake support scam is making the rounds to Windows users. It is actually malware being masked as a file called Microsoft Security Essentials.
Microsoft is calling the malware Hicurdismos. Support scam malware is a program or script that displays messages urging you to contact a fake tech support phone number. The Hicurdismos malware displays this fake BSOD error message:
Warning! If you call the fake tech support, scammers will answer the phone and try to steal your money. What they do is try to convince you that there are more problems with your PC and you need to pay them for their services or software to fix the problems. The scammer might also try to get you to download more malware disguised as support tools to fix the problem, that doesn't actually exist.
How the scam works
This malware threat is actually an installer that arrives by drive-by-download. If you try installing the fake Microsoft Security Essentials, your PC will be infected.
People still using Windows 7, or earlier operating systems, actually have Microsoft Security Essentials as an anti-malware component. If you're running Windows 8 or 10 you have Windows Defender instead. Some people might be tricked into thinking that adding Security Essentials will improve their PC's security. Don't make that mistake.
Once your PC is infected and runs the Hicurdismos malware, you will see the fake Blue Screen of Death as shown above. Here is how the malware works:
- Hides the mouse - Without access to the mouse, the user thinks the system is not responding.
- Disables Task Manager - This prevents the user from ending the Hicurdismos process.
- Displays fake BSOD - The BSOD takes over the entire screen, preventing the user from using the PC.
Detecting the scam
The Hicurdismos malware scam uses a fake Blue Screen of Death to fool its victims. Here are a few things you can look for to spot one of these fake support scams:
- Spotting a fake BSOD - Real error messages from Microsoft will not include a phone number for support. They will actually provide you with an error code and instructions to search for more information.
- Anti-malware products - Windows 8 and 10 already has Windows Defender built-in. If you are running these operating systems there's no need to install Security Essentials.
- Certificates - Microsoft installers are signed by a Microsoft certificate.
If your PC is infected
If you are already a victim of Hicurdismos or any fake support scam, take these steps:
- Apply all security updates as soon as they're available. Do a full scan of your PC to remove the threat.
- Change your passwords.
- If you paid the scammers, call your bank or credit card provider to get the charges reversed.
- Watch for any suspicious login activity. Block all traffic to services that you would not typically access.