Windows Active HotSpot is a scareware program from the
family of computer infections. This program is considered a rogue anti-spyware program because it does not allow you to access your Windows desktop, automatically terminates legitimate applications, and displays false scan results and security alerts that are designed to scare you into purchasing the program. This program will also be configured to start automatically before your Windows desktop is shown, which makes your computer unusable until the infection is removed. Windows Active HotSpot is distributed through web sites that display a fake online virus scanner that states your computer is infected and then prompts you to download the installation file. This infection is also promoted by hacked web sites that contain exploit code that tries to install the infection on your computer without your permission or knowledge.
Once Windows Active HotSpot is installed it will be configured to automatically start when you login to Windows. Once started, it will pretend to scan your computer and then states that there are numerous infections present. If you attempt to remove any of these supposed infections, the program will state that you first need to purchase a license before being allowed to do so. As all of the scan results are false, please ignore any prompts to purchase the program.
Windows Active HotSpot screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 4 images you can view.
To protect itself from being removed, Windows Active HotSpot will also block you from running any legitimate application on your computer. It does this to prevent you from running legitimate security software that may detect it as an infection and remove it. The message that you will see when you attempt to run a program is:
Firewall has blocked a program from accessing the Internet
is suspected to have infected your PC.
This type of virus intercepts entered data and transmits them
to a remote server.
When you see this message please ignore it as your programs are not infected and will work normally after this infection is removed.
While Windows Active HotSpot is running it will also display fake security alerts that are designed to make you think your computer has a severe security problem. Some of these warnings include:
Attempt to run a potentially dangerous script detected.
Full system scan is highly recommended.
System data security is at risk!
To prevent potential PC errors, run a full system scan.
Warning! Identity theft attempt detected
Hidden connection IP: xx.xxx.xxx.xxx
Target: Microsoft Corporation keys
Your IP: 127.0.0.1
Just like the scan results, these warnings are fake and can be ignored.
As you can see, this computer infection was created solely to scare you into thinking your computer was infected and that you should purchase it to protect your computer. It goes without
saying that you should definitely not purchase Windows Active HotSpot, and if you already have,
please contact your credit card company and dispute the charges stating that
the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Windows Active HotSpot and other
related malware, please use the free removal guide below.
View Windows Active HotSpot files.
View Windows Active HotSpot Registry Information.
Tools Needed for this fix:
Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [GuardSoftware] %AppData%\guard-<random>.exe
12/01/13 - Initial guide creation.
Automated Removal Instructions for Windows Active HotSpot using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:
- Below are the steps to remove Windows Active HotSpot. BleepingComputer has always prided itself on its trusted online support. We are excited to recommend Online Virus Repair Inc. for the same trusted support via telephone. If you are having trouble with the below steps or if you would prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can contact Online Virus Repair at the below number.
Premium Phone Support
Otherwise, as always you can always ask us for further help in the forums.
- For the first part of this removal guide you will need to use a different
computer than the infected one in order to download and save some files that we need for the fix.
- On a clean computer, start a web browser and download and save the following Windows Registry file to your desktop from the link below:
- When the file has finished downloading, please burn it on to a CD or save it to a USB drive so that we can transfer the file to the infected computer.
- When you have finished saving the RemVimes.reg registry file to a removable media, please reboot the infected computer. While the computer is starting please
being to repeatedly tap the F8 key on your keyboard. This
will open up the Advanced Boot Options screen, in Windows
7 or Vista, or the Windows Advanced Options Menu in Windows
XP. The screen that you need to get to will look similar to the one below.
At the above screen you will see a variety of options that can be used to
boot Windows. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, highlight the option
labeled Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Once it is highlighted,
click on the Enter key on your keyboard.
- Windows will now start and if you have multiple accounts or a password on
your single account, you will be presented with a screen asking you to login
to Windows. Please select your account and enter any password that you may
have. When done, the Windows Command Prompt will open and you will see a screen
similar to the one below.
The Command Prompt allows you to type commands and then press Enter on your
keyboard to execute them. In this Command Prompt window, please type explorer.exe
and then press Enter on your keyboard.
- The Windows desktop will now appear. When the desktop appears you can then
close the Command Prompt window by clicking on the X.
- Now insert your CD or USB drive and open up the drive letter associated with your inserted media. You can access this drive letter by opening the Computer icon on your desktop or from the Start Menu. Once the drive letter is open, double-click on the RemVimes.reg and allow the data to be merged when you are prompted. Once the data has been merged, you can press the OK button and remove the removable media from your computer.
- Please reboot your computer into the normal Windows mode and login as the infected user. When you are back at your normal Windows desktop please continue with the next step.
- 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 this infection is known to be installed by vulnerabilities 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 HotSpot
infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through,
you may want to consider purchasing the
full version of Malwarebytes Anti-malware to protect your computer 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 Windows Active HotSpot Files
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 HotSpot Windows Registry Information
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "GuardSoftware" = "%AppData%\guard-<random>.exe"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon "Shell"="C:\\Users\\User\\AppData\\Roaming\\guard-<random>.exe"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msseces.exe "Debugger"="svchost.exe"
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msmpeng.exe "Debugger"="svchost.exe"
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"
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.