Windows Active Defender is a computer infection from the
family rogue anti-spyware programs. It is considered a rogue because it displays fake security alerts, false scan results, and makes it so that you are unable to run your normal programs. This family of infections are spread through hacked web sites that exploit vulnerabilities on your computer so that the program can be installed without your knowledge or permission. This family is also spread via advertisements that pretend to be an online anti-malware scanner that states that you are infected and then prompts you to download and install the program.
Windows Active Defender screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 3 images you can view.
When Windows Active Defender is installed it will be set to start when you login to Windows. Once started it will scan your computer and state that there are numerous infections present. If you attempt to remove any of these infections, though, it will state that you first need to purchase program before you can do so. As the scan results are all false, please do not purchase this program.
When installed, Windows Active Defender will also make changes to the Windows Registry so that you are unable to launch a variety of legitimate applications. When you attempt to run one of these programs it will instead launch the infection and state that your legitimate program is infected. It does this so that they cannot assist you in removing the infection from your computer.
While running, Windows Active Defender will also display fake security warnings that attempt to scare you into thinking that your computer is sending private information to a remote site or is under attack from infection. Examples of some alerts you may see include:
Attempt to modify registry key entries detected. Registry entry analysis is recommended.
Attempt to run a potentially dangerous script detected.
Full system scan is highly recommended.
Just like the scan results, all of these security alerts are fake and should be ignored.
As you can see, Windows Active Defender was created for one reason; to make you think that your computer is infected so that you will then purchase the program. With this said, for no reason should you purchase this program, and if you have, you should
contact your credit card company and dispute the charge stating that the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Windows Active Defender and related malware, please follow the steps in the removal guide
View Windows Active Defender files.
View Windows Active Defender Registry Information.
Tools Needed for this fix:
Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Inspector] %AppData%\Protector-<random 3 chars>.exe
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Inspector] %AppData%\Protector-<random 4 chars>.exe
06/14/12 - Initial guide creation.
Automated Removal Instructions for Windows Active Defender using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:
- Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is
open later in the fix.
- It is possible that the infection you are trying to remove will not allow
you to download files on the infected computer. If you run into this problem
when following the steps in this guide you will need to download the files
requested in this guide on another computer and then transfer them to the
infected computer. You can transfer the files via a CD/DVD, external drive,
or USB flash drive.
- Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking using
the instructions for your version of Windows found in the following tutorial:
to start Windows in Safe Mode
When following the steps in the above tutorial, select Safe Mode with
Networking rather than just Safe Mode. When the computer reboots
into Safe Mode with Networking make sure you login with the username you normally
use. When you are at your Windows desktop, please continue with the rest of
- This infection changes your Windows settings to use a proxy server that
will not allow you to browse any pages on the Internet with Internet Explorer
or update security software. Regardless of the web browser you use, for these
instructions we will first need need to fix this problem so that we can download
the utilities we need to remove this infection.
Please start Internet Explorer, and when the program is open, click on the
Tools menu and then select Internet Options
as shown in the image below.
- You should now be in the Internet Options screen as shown in the image below.
Now click on the Connections tab as designated by the blue
- You will now be at the Connections tab as shown by the image below.
Now click on the Lan Settings button as designated by the
blue arrow above.
- You will now be at the Local Area Network (LAN) settings screen as shown
by the image below.
Under the Proxy Server section, please uncheck the checkbox labeled Use
a proxy server for your LAN. Then press the OK button
to close this screen. Then press the OK button to close the
Internet Options screen. Now that you have disabled the proxy server you will
be able to browse the web again with Internet Explorer.
- Now we must end the processes that belong to
Windows Active Defender
so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please
download RKill to your desktop from the following link.
Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)
When at the download page, click on the Download Now button
labeled iExplore.exe download link. When you are prompted
where to save it, please save it on your desktop.
If you are unable to connect to the site to download RKill, please go back
and do steps 3-6 again and make sure the infection has not reenabled the proxy
settings. You may have to do this quite a few times before you can get RKill
downloaded. If you still cannot download the RKill program on the infected
computer, you should download it to a clean computer and copy it to the infected
one via a USB flash drive or CDROM.
- Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe
icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with
Windows Active Defender
and other Rogue programs. Please be patient while the program looks for various
malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will
automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a
message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just
a fake warning given by
Windows Active Defender
when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into
these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning
on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically
will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that RKill
Windows Active Defender
. So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You
will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. Do not reboot
your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.
If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other
renamed versions of RKill from the RKill
download page. Both of these files are renamed copies of RKill, which
you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new
browser window or tab.
- 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
Windows Active Defender
program. You may want to consider purchasing
the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types
of threats in the future, as if you had the real-time protection component,
that comes with the paid for version, activated it would not have allowed this
infection to install.
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 Windows Active Defender Files
%AppData%\Protector-<random 3 chars>.exe
%AppData%\Protector-<random 4 chars>.exe
File Location Notes:
%AppData% refers to the current users Application Data folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User>\Application Data for Windows 2000/XP. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 it is C:\Users\<Current User>\AppData\Roaming.
View Associated Windows Active Defender Windows Registry Information
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings "WarnOnHTTPSToHTTPRedirect" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableRegedit" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableRegistryTools" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System "DisableTaskMgr" = 0
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin" = 0
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "ConsentPromptBehaviorUser" = 0
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system "EnableLUA" = 0
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings "net" = "2012-6-14_7"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings "UID" = "fecxlyxkdq"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\alevir.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\bipcpevalsetup.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\gbmenu.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msdm.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\protector.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\srng.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\W3asbas.exe
... and many more Image File Execution Options entries.
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.