Windows Active Guard is a computer infection from the
family rogue anti-spyware programs. This program is classified as a rogue becuase it deliberately displays fake security alerts , fake scan results, and does not allow you to use your computer normally until you purchase the pgoram. This family of rogues are promoted using three methods. The first method is through web sites that display an advertisement that pretends to be an online anti-malware scanner. When the advertisement is finished, it will state that your computer is infected and that you should download Windows Active Guard in order to clean your computer. The second method is to install the infection without your knowledge or permission when you visit web sites that have been hacked to display malicious code. This code will attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in Windows, Flash, Shockwave, Java, or Adobe Acrobat so that the malicious code can automatically install the software onto your computer without your permission. The final method is through Trojans that pretend to be a video codec or other software that is required to view an online video.
Windows Active Guard 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 the rogue is installed on your computer it will be configured to run automatically when Windows starts. Once the program starts it will automatically scan your computer and display fake scan results that state your computer is infected. If you attempt to remove any of these supposed infections, though, it will tell you that you first need to purchase the program before it can remove anything. Windows Active Guard will also change various Windows Registry keys so that you are unable to launch many programs. Instead when you attempt to start a program like the Windows Task Manager or your anti-virus software, it will launch the rogue program instead. This allows the rogue to protect itself from being removed by Windows utilities or your installed security software.
While the infection is running it will also display fake alerts and warnings that are meant to scare you into thinking that your computer is severely infected. These warnings will state that Trojans have been detected, that remote computers are attacking you, or that your computer is sending personal information to a remote location. An example of one of these alerts is:
Attempt to run a potentially dangerous script detected.
Full system scan is highly recommended.
Keylogger activity detected. System information security is at risk.
It is recommended to activate protection and run a full system scan.
Recommended: Please use secure encrypted protocol for torrent links.
Torrent link detected!
Receiving this notifications means that you have violated the copyright laws. Using Torrent for downloading movies and licensed software shall be prosecuted and you may be sued for cybercrime and breach of law under the SOPA legislation.
Just like the scan results, all of these security alerts are fake and should be ignored.
As you can see, Windows Active Guard is a scam that was created solely to scare you into thinking your computer is infected so that you will then purchase the program. For no reason should you purchase this program, and if you have, you should
contact your credit card company to dispute the charges stating that the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Windows Active Guard and related malware, please follow the steps in the removal guide
View Windows Active Guard files.
View Windows Active Guard 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
07/23/12 - Initial guide creation.
Automated Removal Instructions for Windows Active Guard 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 Guard
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 Guard
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 Guard
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 Guard
. 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.
- Now you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, from the following
location and save it to your desktop:
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link
(Download page will open in a new window)
If you are unable to connect to the site to download Malwarebytes', please
go back and do steps 3-6 again and make sure the infection has not reenabled
the proxy settings.
- 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 both the
Update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and 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 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.
- 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
Windows Active Guard
- 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
- When the scan is finished a message box will appear as shown in the image
You should click on the OK button to close the message box and continue with
Windows Active Guard
- You will now be back at the main Scanner screen. At this point you should
click on the Show Results button.
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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 Guard
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
Associated Windows Active Guard 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.
Associated Windows Active Guard 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" = "2012-7-23_3"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings "UID" = "odfjjflrtb"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\~2.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\avxmonitornt.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\deputy.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\iamstats.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\mghtml.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\OAcat.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\rav7win.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\symlcsvc.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\win-bugsfix.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.