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Windows 10 will now protect users from scareware

(Image credit: Image Credit: JMiks / Shutterstock)

Microsoft is taking a hard stance against software and applications that utilise scare tactics (opens in new tab) to trick consumers into purchasing them. 

Adverts that provide 'free scans' of a Windows PC which later detect a virus or defects that only its paid software can fix are all too common on the Internet and the company will soon take action to protect users from these scams.

Microsoft has recently updated Windows Defender's website to provide further clarification on how its security solution identifies malware and other unwanted software (opens in new tab).  In the post, the company highlighted a number of unwanted behaviours caused by software intended to take advantage of users. 

Microsoft specifically called out software that uses “coercive messages” to trick users into installing and paying for it, saying: 

“Programs must not display alarming or coercive messages or misleading content to pressure you into paying for additional services or performing superfluous actions.” 

The upcoming crackdown on scam software will also target apps that trick users into taking surveys, downloading files, or signing up for newsletters to fix problems on their systems that do not even exist.  Software makers that use any of these or other scare tactics will have to be very careful about advertising their products once the new rules go into effect on March 1st. 

Windows Defender Security Research team member Barak Shein explained the reasoning behind Microsoft's new update (opens in new tab), saying: 

“This update comes in addition to our other long-standing customer protection requirements designed to keep our customers from being deceived by programs that display misleading, exaggerated, or threatening messages about a system’s health.” 

The Internet has become an increasingly dangerous place for less tech-savvy users and hopefully Microsoft's update to Windows Defender (opens in new tab) will prevent them from falling victim to dubious software. 

Image Credit: JMiks / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.