Jo Anne writes:
I received a message that said that my Microsoft security software is turned off and I am not protected. What can I do? I even ran the scan. The warning says that I can buy antivirus protection, but I don’t want to pay for it.
If your computer is running Windows, you do not need to pay for antivirus software. To help fight both viruses and spyware, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials at no cost for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
First make sure to uninstall any other antivirus software—whether you installed it or it came preinstalled on your computer. If you choose to install other antivirus software on your computer, Microsoft Security Essentials will be disabled.
Windows Defender is an antivirus feature in Windows 8 PCs and tablets that replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. It runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action.
Watch out for rogue security software
The message that Jo Anne received might have been a genuine warning from Microsoft, but it sounds like it could be a rogue security software scam. Rogue security software (also known as “scareware”) claims to offer security benefits but actually provides limited or no security and may even lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions.
As you surf the web, you might see legitimate looking pop-up windows containing “updates” or “alerts” that say you need to click to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, rogue security software downloads to your computer.
For examples of rogue security software, see our Real vs. Rogue Facebook app.