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How to remove the Fake Windows Activation screen (Uninstall Guide)

By on May 18, 2010 @ 10:56 AM | Read 55,237 times.
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If you are receiving a pop-up stating that Windows needs to be re-activated and that you need to enter credit card information then you are most likely infected with a ransomware infection. This Trojan will cause a window to appear when Windows starts that states that you need to re-activate Windows for anti-piracy reasons. It will then prompt you for your credit card information. While this alert is being shown you will not be able to perform any actions on your computer or close the activation window. If you choose not to re-activate Windows by entering your credit card information, the Trojan will just reboot your computer and start the Trojan the next time you login. Using this procedure, the Trojan essentially ransoms the proper operation of your computer until you enter some sort of credit card information. It goes without saying that you should definitely not submit your credit card information as the malware writers will use this information to perform identity theft or charge your card for an unknown amount of money.

 

Fake Windows Activation screen
Fake Windows Activation screen
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 3 images you can view.

 

The text of the alert you will see while this Trojan is active is:

Microsoft Windows Activation
Microsoft Piracy Control

Your copy of Windows was activated by another user. To help reduce software piracy, please re-activate your copy of Windows now. We will ask for your billing details, but your credit card will NOT be charged. You must activate Windows before you can continue to use it. Microsoft is committed to your privacy. For more information, www.microsoft.com/privacy.

Do you want to activate Windows now?

As already stated, this alert is fake and should be ignored. Instead use the steps below to remove this ransomware from your computer.

 

Threat Classification:

 

Advanced information:

View Fake Windows Activation screen files.
View Fake Windows Activation screen Registry Information.

 

Tools Needed for this fix:

 

Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:

O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [<random>] "C:\WINDOWS\system32\<random>.exe" -auto

 

Guide Updates:

05/13/10 - Initial guide creation

 


Automated Removal Instructions for Fake Windows Activation screen using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:

 

  1. Print out these instructions as we will need to close every window that is open later in the fix.

  2. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking. To do this, turn your computer off and then back on and immediately when you see anything on the screen, start tapping the F8 key on your keyboard. Eventually you will be brought to a menu similar to the one below:


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

    Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter on your keyboard. If you are having trouble entering safe mode, then please use the following tutorial: How to start Windows in Safe Mode

    Windows will now boot into safe mode with networking and prompt you to login as a user. Please login as the same user you were previously logged in with in the normal Windows mode. Then proceed with the rest of the steps.

  3. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    http://download.bleepingcomputer.com/malwarebytes/mbam-setup.exe - Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

  4. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  5. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe. This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  6. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave both the Update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button.

  7. MBAM will now automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program before performing a scan. As MBAM will automatically update itself after the install, you can press the OK button to close that box and you will now be at the main program as shown below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

  8. On the Scanner tab, make sure the the Perform full scan option is selected and then click on the Scan button to start scanning your computer for Fake Windows Activation screen related files.

  9. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you go and do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan. When MBAM is scanning it will look like the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scanning Screen

  10. When the scan is finished a message box will appear as shown in the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scan Finished Screen

    You should click on the OK button to close the message box and continue with the Fake Windows Activation screen removal process.

  11. You will now be back at the main Scanner screen. At this point you should click on the Show Results button.

  12. A screen displaying all the malware that the program found will be shown as seen in the image below. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.


    MalwareBytes Scan Results


    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the listed malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  13. When MBAM has finished removing the malware, it will open the scan log and display it in Notepad. Review the log as desired, and then close the Notepad window.

  14. You can now exit the MBAM program.

  15. As many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Your computer should now be free of the Fake Windows Activation screen program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.

If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow the steps outlined in the topic linked below:

Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help

 


 

Associated Fake Windows Activation screen Files:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\<random>.exe
%UserProfile%\Application Data\mtl.dll

File Location Notes:

%UserProfile% refers to the current user's profile folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User> for Windows 2000/XP, C:\Users\<Current User> for Windows Vista/7/8, and c:\winnt\profiles\<Current User> for Windows NT.

 

Associated Fake Windows Activation screen Windows Registry Information:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\AntiPiracy
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\<random>
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableTaskMgr" = "1"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "<random>"

 


 

This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.

BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.

If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.


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