Windows Active Defender is a computer infection from the Rogue.FakeVimes 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.
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 below.
Self Help Guide
If you are uncomfortable making changes to your computer or following these steps, do not worry! Instead you can get free one-on-one help by asking in the forums.
To remove Windows Active Defender, follow these steps:
- STEP 1: Print out instructions before we begin.
- STEP 2: Reboot into Safe Mode with Networking
- STEP 3: Remove proxy servers from installed web browsers.
- STEP 4: Use Rkill to terminate suspicious programs.
- STEP 5: Use Malwarebytes AntiMalware to Scan for Malware and Unwanted Programs
- STEP 6: Use HitmanPro to scan your computer for badware
- STEP 7: Run Secunia PSI to find outdated and vulnerable programs.
This removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the amount of the steps and numerous programs that will be used. It was only written this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy to understand instructions that anyone can use to remove this infection for free. Before using this guide, we suggest that you read it once and download all necessary tools to your desktop. After doing so, please print this page as you may need to close your browser window or reboot your computer.
Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking using the instructions for your version of Windows found in the following tutorial:
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 the steps.
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 arrow above.
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.
To terminate any programs that may interfere with the removal process we must first download the Rkill program. Rkill will search your computer for active malware infections and attempt to terminate them so that they wont interfere with the removal process. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.
When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.
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 malware. 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 a log file will open. Please review the log file and then close so you can continue with the next step. If you have problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the rkill download page. All of the 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.
Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.
At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any infections, adware, or potentially unwanted programs that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following location and save it to your desktop:
Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.
Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mb3-setup-1878.1878-184.108.40.2062. 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.
We now need to enable rootkit scanning to detect the largest amount of malware and unwanted programs that is possible with MalwareBytes. To do this, click on the Settings button on the left side of the screen and you will be brought to the general settings section.
Now click on the Protection tab at the top of the screen. You will now be shown the settings MalwareBytes will use when scanning your computer.
At this screen, please enable the Scan for rootkits setting by clicking on the toggle switch so it turns green.
Now that you have enabled rootkit scanning, click on the Scan button to go to the scan screen.
Make sure Threat Scan is selected and then click on the Start Scan button. 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, adware, or potentially unwanted programs that it has detected. Please note that the items 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 selected items. 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.
You can now exit the MBAM program.
If your computer is still in Safe Mode with Networking, you can reboot your computer back to normal mode. Once your computer is rebooted and you are back at the desktop, you can proceed with the rest of the instructions.
Now you should download HitmanPro from the following location and save it to your desktop:
When you visit the above page, please download the version that corresponds to the bit-type of the Windows version you are using.
Once downloaded, double-click on the file named HitmanPro.exe (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or HitmanPro_x64.exe (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
Now click on the Next button to continue with the scan process.
You will now be at the HitmanPro setup screen. If you would like to install the 30 day trial for HitmanPro, select the Yes, create a copy of HitmanPro so I can regularly scan this computer (recommended) option. Otherwise, if you just want to scan the computer this one time, please select the No, I only want to perform a one-time scan to check this computer option.
Once you have selected one of the options, please click on the Next button.
HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for infections, adware, and potentially unwanted programs. When it has finished it will display a list of all the items that Hitman has found as shown in the image below. Please note that the items found may be different than what is shown in the image.
You should now click on the Next button to have HitmanPro remove the detected items. When it is done you will be shown a Removal Results screen that shows the status of the various programs that were removed. At this screen you should click on the Next button and then if prompted you should click on the Reboot button. If HitmanPro does not prompt you to reboot, please just click on the Close button.
Once your computer has has restarted or you pressed the Close button, you should now be at your Windows desktop.
As many malware and unwanted programs 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:
Your computer should now be free of the Windows Active Defender program. If your current security solution allowed this program on your computer, you may want to consider purchasing the full-featured 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:
Are Your Protected?
While Malwarebytes Anti-Malware & HitmanPro will scan and clean a computer for free, the free versions do not offer real-time protection. If you want to be fully protected at all times then it is recommended that you purchase a premium version.
Purchase the full-featured version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which includes real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and website filtering, to protect yourself against these types of threats in the future!
Purchase the full-featured version of HitmanPro, which includes discover viruses, trojans, rootkits, spyware and other malware on up-to-date and fully protected computers using cloud protection and behavioral detections, to protect yourself against these types of threats in the future!
Disclaimer: While we do earn a commission from the sale of the above products, rest assured we only recommend them due to their effectiveness.