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
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.
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
05/13/10 - Initial guide creation
Automated Removal Instructions for Fake Windows Activation screen using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:
- Print out these instructions as we will need to close every window that
is open later in the fix.
- 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:
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.
- At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any any infections or adware that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following
location and save it to your desktop:
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)
- Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including
- Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe.
This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.
- 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 Launch
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.
- MBAM will now start and you will be at the main screen as shown below.
Please click on the Scan Now button to start the scan. If there is an update available for Malwarebytes it will automatically download and install it before performing the scan.
- MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can
take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically
check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
- When MBAM is finished scanning it will display a screen that displays any malware that it has detected. Please note that the infections found may be different
than what is shown in the image below due to the guide being updated for newer versions of MBAM.
You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove
all the seleted 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
- You can now exit the MBAM program.
- 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:
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
View Associated Fake Windows Activation screen Files
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.
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.