Windows Active Guard is yet another fake antivirus program that originated from a large clan of rogue software. There are several ways how Windows Active Guard may enter your PC. But, one thing common to its victims is the presence of Trojan known to be a rootkit. This Trojan may enter the computer unknown to victim. Even its operation remains stealth that even installed antivirus software will fail to detect.
Once Windows Active Guard is active on the system, it will carry out certain modifications. Once of the changes aims to start the malware each time Windows starts. It will also make some registry changes to lessen the security on the compromised PC. The malware will also prevent execution of entire programs. Instead of running it, Windows Active Guard will announce that file is infected with virus and requires cleaning using the licensed copy.
You should not consider Windows Active Guard as virus cleaner. The fact is, it is tagged as rogue together with older variants from the same group. Buying it is a complete waste of money. If you plan to spend for a security program, then, we highly recommend effective and genuine anti-malware program. It does not only remove the Windows Active Guard virus, but also protect the system from other harmful attacks.
What are the Symptoms of Windows Active Guard Infection?
If computer is infected with this malware, obviously, user may observe a fake scan conducted by Windows Active Guard. Image below shows how the fake scanner looks like.
It will modify Windows Registry and add the following entries:
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System “DisableTaskMgr” = 0
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings “net” = “u_2012-7-15_2”
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Settings “UID” = “njmnctpowi”
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\mklpqgfh.exe
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\SafetyKeeper.exe
The threat will drop the following malicious files:
%AppData%\Protector-[random 3 characters].exe
%AppData%\Protector-[random 4 characters].exe
%CommonStartMenu%\Programs\Windows Active Guard.lnk
%Desktop%\Windows Active Guard.lnk
Procedures to Remove Windows Active Guard
Removal steps on this page will help you get rid of the threat effectively using tools and virus scanners. Please make sure that you will carry out the guide in exact order.
Procedure 1: Activate Windows Active Guard and run virus scan
For users with technical skills in dealing with computer problems, executing this manual removal is enough to stop the malware. However, we highly recommend running anti-malware scan to remove other hidden files. For users who are not tech-savvy, you must skip this step. Start on Procedure 2 and proceed onwards. Automatic removal takes longer to accomplish but is less difficult to execute.
1. Please use the serial code below to activate Windows Active Guard.
Once the rogue program has activated, you will regain access to Internet and needed tools like task manager and registry editor. Keep in mind that entering this code will not remove the malware. This step will just reverse all changes the rogue software has made to the computer.
Serial Code: 0W000-000B0-00T00-E0020
2. Next, we will try to remove Windows Active Guard by running a virus scan under Safe Mode with Networking. To perform this task, please complete these procedures.
Start Windows 8 / Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking
- Close all running programs on your computer because we will need to restart Windows on this procedure.
- Press and Hold Shift key on your keyboard while clicking on Restart.
- You will then be presented with Troubleshooting Options.
- Click on Troubleshoot icon.
- Then, Click on Advanced Options icon.
- Select Startup Settings icon and then, Click on Restart button.
- When Windows restarts, it will prompt to choose number from the list of options. Press the number on your keyboard that corresponds to Safe Mode with Networking, commonly number 5.
- Once in Safe Mode, please proceed to the next step which is running a virus scan on the computer.
Start in Safe Mode with Networking (Windows XP / Vista / 7 Instruction)
- Please restart the computer and just before Windows start, press F8 on your keyboard repeatedly. You will be presented with Advanced Options Menu.
- From the selections, choose Safe Mode with Networking. Please use keyboard's arrow up/down to navigate between selections and press Enter to proceed.
3. Open your installed anti-virus programs and update it to the most recent version by automatically downloading necessary updates.
4. Thoroughly scan the computer and remove all identified threats. Do not restart or turn off the computer after the scan process. You still need to run another scan. Please follow the next procedure.
Procedure 2: Scan and remove Windows Active Guard files with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware
To remove Windows Active Guard, download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This tool is effective in getting rid of Trojans, viruses and malware.
1. After downloading, please install the program using the default settings.
2. At the end of the installation, please make sure that it will download necessary updates.
3. Once update has completed, MBAM will launch.
4. Select SCAN from the top menu. Then, click on Threat Scan (Recommended) section.
5. Click on Start Scan to thoroughly scan the computer. Remove all threats detected by this anti-malware program after the process.
Procedure 3: Run TrendMicro's Fake Antivirus Remover (ATTK) to check and delete any remnants of Windows Active Guard.
As an added help to remove Windows Active Guard, you can scan the computer with Fake Antivirus Removal Tool. This software is provided and distributed by TrendMicro. Follow this procedure to run a scan with this tool.
1. Download the package by clicking on the button below. This will launch a new browser window that contains further details about the tool.
2. Save the file to a location on your hard drive.
3. Browse for the location of the file and double-click to run. If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, right-click on extracted file supportcustomizedpackage and click on Run as Administrator.
4. When program launch, it will run a command prompt to initialize, prepare components, and update the program.
5. Next it will open the graphical user interface (GUI) of Anti-Threat Toolkit.
6. Click on Scan Now. This operation will scan all Windows Active Guard files and processes in your computer and display a list of result for possible Fake Antivirus program and malware that needs to be removed.
7. Tick all items that are detected by the program, and then click Clean. The tool will start removing Windows Active Guard components from the computer.
8. If it asked you to restart Windows, please do so.
Procedure 4: Remove Rootkit Trojan with Avast aswMBR
A Trojan often drops malware using an advance technology known as rootkit. It hides the installation of Windows Active Guard from your anti-virus program and injects malicious code to running Windows processes. To complete the clean-up process, you also need to scan and remove rootkit Trojan.
1. Download aswMBR from Avast server. Save it to your computer.
2. Double-click on the file aswMBR.exe to run the program.
3. If it prompts you to download the latest Avast! virus definition, please click Yes. This is necessary to identify most recent version of the Trojan as well as hidden files of Windows Active Guard.
4. Click on Scan button to start checking your computer for presence of rootkit Trojan and other viruses. It will display a message "Scan finished successfully" when done.
5. Click Fix or FixMBR to start removing infection. If aswMBR contains the latest Avast! virus definition file, it will automatically clean infected files on your PC.
Protect your PC from Windows Active Guard or Similar Attack
Turn On Safe Browsing Features
Google Chrome's Protection from Dangerous Sites
With Google Chrome's Dangerous Site Protection feature, you will have lesser risks browsing the web. It will display a warning when the site you are trying to visit is suspicious, thus, you can prevent Windows Active Guard infection. To enable protection from dangerous sites, please do these steps:
1. Open Google Chrome.
2. In the address bar, type this: chrome://settings/ and then, Press Enter.
3. Once on the settings page, click on Show advanced settings... at the bottom of the page to see the rest of the Chrome setup.
4. Locate Privacy section and mark 'Protect you and your device from dangerous sites'.
5. Please restart Google Chrome. New settings keep your browser safe while surfing the web.
Internet Explorer - Activate SmartScreen Filter
Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9 has this feature called SmartScreen Filter. It helps detect phishing web sites and protect you from downloading malicious programs including Windows Active Guard. To turn on SmartScreen Filter, follow these steps:
1. Please open Internet Explorer.
2. On top menu, select Tools (IE 9). For IE 8, please look for Safety menu.
3. Select SmartScreen Filter from the drop-down list and click on Turn on SmartScreen Filter.
4. Please restart Internet Explorer.
Mozilla Firefox - Block Attack Sites and Web Forgeries
Phishing and Malware Protection is a built-in feature on Firefox version 3 or later. It warns you when a page you are trying to visit contains phishing content or an attack site designed to drop threats such as Windows Active Guard. To help you keep safe while browsing the Internet using Firefox, please follow this guide:
1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser.
2. On top menu, click on Open Menu. Then select Options from the list.
3. Select Security and put a check mark on the following items:
- Warn me when sites try to install add-ons
- Block reported attack sites
- Block reported web forgeries
Edge Browser - SmartScreen Filter
SmartScreen filter is a built-in feature in Microsoft Edge browser that can help you deter malicious programs such as Windows Active Guard. It can block malicious web sites and downloads.
1. Open Microsoft Edge browser.
2. Click on More Actions button located at top right corner of the screen.
3. Select Settings from the drop-down list.
4. Under Settings menu, go to Advanced Settings section and click on View Advanced Settings.
5. Scroll down to "help protect my PC from malicious sites and downloads with SmartScreen Filter". Turn it to ON.
6.You may now restart Microsoft Edge browser.