Fake software update attacks: Dangers and ways to avoid them

Fake software update programs are understood as an intrusion into technology devices hiding behind upgrade notifications, software or operating system updates to carry out attacks and data theft.

The fake software update program works like a remote malware or RAT (Remote Access Trojan). This software was created by attackers to remotely control a compromised computer system.

Attackers will create RATs, masquerading as an updated version of the device's software and operating system to confuse users and install them on their devices.

For example, attackers once gave a file containing ransomware the name of an update for the Windows 11 operating system to trick users into installing it on personal computers. After these malicious codes are run on the user's device, they begin to silently take control of the device, accessing and stealing data.

In the next step, attackers can threaten and blackmail users to ransom data or use stolen data for other purposes.

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How fake software update programs penetrate

Fake software update programs infiltrate users' devices in a variety of ways. However, the most common is still through pop-up windows that appear when users access a website.

A pop-up window appears with an interface identical to the device's software or operating system update notification. This causes confusion for users, causing users to click on pop-up windows pretending to be software updates and install them on the device. Once installed, the malicious code inside the fake update file begins to attack and steal data step by step.

In addition, attackers create emails pretending to be software companies to send to users informing them that they need to update the software to the latest version. In it, attackers provide a link to download the latest fake updated version of the software, causing users to click on that link to download and install.

In addition, the operating system update version is also faked and inserted into the phone's application store. Typically, in some cases, phone applications that use the Android operating system have been named by attackers as if they were an updated version of the operating system and placed in the app store to cause harm. so confusion for users to download and install on the phone.

Danger from fake software update programs

The intrusion of malicious code and fake software updates causes a lot of significant harm to devices and users.


Fake software update programs that infiltrate and run in the background on the device will cause negative effects on the system. Having a hidden program always running on the device, especially in some cases where attackers take advantage of RATs for cryptocurrency mining activities, will more or less reduce the performance and speed of the device. This may cause problems during the operation of the device.

Not only that, these programs running in the background, when left undetected for a long time, can damage and malfunction the device.


Fake software update programs not only steal data but also pose other dangers to users. Most attackers will set up ransomware, pretending to be a software update version to confuse users and proceed with the installation.

Then, this malicious code steals all data and forces users to pay money, usually cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, etc. to get it back.

Besides, in some cases, when data, especially users' personal data, is stolen, they may be at risk of being leaked accidentally or intentionally by attackers. . That data can become a tool for cybercriminals to use to carry out illegal activities.

How to avoid fake software update programs

To prevent unpredictable harm from fake software update programs, each user needs to take effective measures.

1: Limit access to strange websites, do not download programs of unknown origin

Strange websites on the internet are mostly programmed with pop-up windows that appear during user access. Those pop-up windows may contain links to download programs with interfaces that look like they are reminding users to update to the latest software version. Therefore, users need to choose legitimate, safe websites to access and search for information.

In addition, when users accidentally right-click on a pop-up window on a website and see an update notification on it, users should not download the program to their device. In case a program automatically downloads to the device, users need to quickly stop the download or delete the program from their device to avoid the risk of intrusion and data theft.

2: Be careful when receiving emails

Although currently the method of sending software update notification emails is rarely used by attackers, however, in some cases, they still create emails impersonating software companies to deceive users. gullible.

Therefore, users need to be careful every time they receive an email with the same name as the software company they are using. Users should visit the software company's official website to view information, 

, including providing the company's exact email or following up on the company's recommendations if there is email fraud.

Not only that, nowadays, most software companies often send update notifications directly on the application or on the device. Therefore, users need to understand clearly to avoid being lured by fake emails to download fake software update programs.

In addition, users can cross-check by going to the device's settings or inside the application in case they receive an email notification that the software or operating system needs to be updated.

3: Use protection programs for your device

Currently, popular web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari,... all have built-in security mode when used to access. In addition, these browsers, typically Google Chrome, also have advanced protection and provide additional utilities for this.

Therefore, users should use these features to protect their devices when accessing websites. In addition, users should also turn on the firewall system on Windows or macOS operating systems to prevent harmful websites when using personal computers.

Not only that, users should also install additional anti-virus and anti-malware software to help detect and remove strange files, contributing to creating an additional layer of protection for their devices.

4: Backup and store data appropriately

The best way to prevent the user's device from losing all data or being attacked by ransomware is to create backup copies of data, especially important data. . Along with storing documents on the device, users should copy many other copies to store them on physical storage tools such as USB, memory card or removable hard drive or use storage sites. Cloud storage such as: OneDrive, Google drive, Mediafire,... to prevent the worst case when users' data is hijacked by attackers.