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Windows 10 default apps showing scam adverts

Don't get scammed!

Windows 10 has been struck by a worrying problem in that some of its core (installed by default) apps are displaying fraudulent adverts which could potentially play all sorts of nasty tricks on the user. To someone unknown and oblivious to scam adverts they could easily click onto something and end up being in a situation where their personal information gets into someone else's hands. 

This was first highlighted on Microsoft's German support site and a post since then has clarified the issue that affects apps including Microsoft News and Weather and possibly other applications or Microsoft services. MSN Money is also mentioned. 

These malicious banner adverts are being erroneously picked up by Microsoft’s ad servers and presented to the user. They contain some kind of bait to get the user to click them, either claiming that your PC is infected with viruses, or suggesting that you have won a lottery. Either way this could prove not only annoying but as previously mentioned, someone without the computing knowledge to realize it's a scam could result in a bad situation.

If you were to click on one of the adverts, they will take you to some sort of malicious site which is seemingly trying to sell you a fix to a non-existent virus that is running on your machine. It may also ask you to remove your anti-virus software and replace it with another and through doing so try to perform a malicious attack without your knowing. 

A Microsoft moderator has stated: “The fake virus warnings eventually direct to a download page for Reimage Repair, which is classified by Microsoft as potentially unwanted application (PUA) but not detected as malware by Windows Defender at this time.“A scan of the downloaded file at VirusTotal indicates nine different antivirus/antimalware programs detect it as malware and some may block the download or even the landing page for the download.” So it's safe to say Windows Defender isn't doing it's job. Without an anti-virus on top of Windows Defender you could see yourself being left very vulnerable.

Normally, these sorts of malicious ads should be policed and stripped out of Microsoft’s ad serving network, but evidently these rogue banner ads are slipping through the net somehow.

Countermeasures such as Windows Defender SmartScreen should still block these, but as Microsoft notes, SmartScreen isn’t recognizing all the current malicious adverts out there, so is failing to defend against some of them. This shows that Microsoft need to step up their level of security. If they're going to want customers to still be using their operating system, then users need to feel a sense of safety when having stored all their personal data.

Don't open and close immediately

If you see any core Microsoft apps and see any suspicious adverts, be careful not to click them. All you need to do is close the window offering the ad, and that should be the end of it, Microsoft advises. They can't actually force you to open up the link however, do make sure you're cautions because with one click of the button everything could go disastrous really quickly.

It is possible for the more tech-savvy to block these ads at the DNS level, as Microsoft Support explains, “for example via a central ad blocker in the network like a Pihole, you should block the following pages: * / * / *”. Otherwise, the only thing to do is wait until Microsoft gets on the case and blocks the ad operators from running these banner adverts, which you would hope will happen sooner rather than later.

One of the major reasons to upgrade to Windows 10, of course, is that the newest OS is sold as being more secure than Windows7/8.1, so glitches in the default operating system’s apps are a bit embarrassing for Microsoft to say the least. However, I believe they will be working hard to make sure there is a fix for this a soon as possible. Most of the users of the internet run of a Windows operating system. It would be silly to ignore the security flaws in this issue.

What's next?

Keep an eye out on this blog for future updates on the situation. If there is any update from Microsoft in regards to a fix we'll be sure to let you know ASAP. If you're struggling with anything else regards to computing or Windows feel free to give us a call using the following details.

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