About Hackers Are Watching You! POP-UP Scam (Mac)
“Hackers are watching you!” is one of the false claims used by scammers to trick users. This pop-up alert can appear when browsing certain questionable websites. While it may seem scary to some users, the alert is completely fake. This and similar alerts are often used to trick users into installing apps they do not need. In some cases, the apps could even be malicious. While the alerts will claim that they’re offering security apps, that’s certainly not the case. What you’d end up downloading is either something potentially malicious or even outright malware. If you come across this pop-up, you can simply close the window and continue your regular browsing.
“Your iPhone connection has been hacked and someone is watching on you!” is a scare tactic used by this fake virus alert. Supposedly, if you do not act in the 2 minutes, hackers will reveal your identity and send your browsing history and front-facing camera photos to people in your contacts. The fake alert also shows a countdown of 2 minutes. Giving a time limit is an effective tactic used by scammers. When users see a time limit, they’re more likely to act in rush and not overthink the situation. The point of this fake alert is to trick users into clicking on the “Protect your connection” button. According to the pop-up, you would be redirected to the App store where you would be recommended to download an app. If you were to believe this pop-up, the app would protect your iPhone from hackers.
If it hasn’t been made clear yet, this iPhone alert is complete nonsense. First of all, because it appears in your browser, it’s immediately clear that the alert is not real. Browsers, whether on computers or smartphones, cannot detect malware. A legitimate virus alert will never appear in a browser. So you can ignore all future virus alerts in your browser. Second, the contents of the alert do not make any sense. Apple does not show security alerts like this on iPhones. And in general, statements like “Your iPhone connection has been hacked and someone is watching on you!” do not make much sense. While it may scare users when such alerts claim that highly personal information would be sent to all contacts, it’s complete nonsense.
Because there are many similar fake security alerts, it’s difficult to say what exactly would happen if you were to engage with it and click on the “Protect your connection” button. You could be redirected to a questionable site/store and prompted to download an app. You could also end up on a site that tries to phish your personal/financial information. For example, you may be asked to buy a subscription to the supposed security app. If you were to type in your payment card details, you would end up giving them to the cybercriminals operating this scam.
Similar alerts may show a phone number. The ones with phone numbers are usually referred to as tech-support scams. Such scams usually intend to trick users into calling fake tech-support numbers to allow scammers to lure hundreds of dollars from them.
Why are you redirected to fake virus alerts?
The most likely reason for these redirects is you visiting questionable websites. There are certain sites that can trigger all kinds of ads and redirects. For example, sites that have pornographic/pirated content are particularly guilty of this. Clicking on anything when browsing those sites often triggers redirects. There’s not much you can do to avoid those ads. Avoiding ads on smartphones, in general, is more difficult than on computers so you need to be extra careful. Though in most cases, the ads are not dangerous as long as you don’t interact with them.
You can change certain settings on your iPhone to block certain ads, though it does not always work perfectly.
Hackers Are Watching You! POP-UP Scam removal
If you come across this or a similar virus alert on your iPhone, you can just close the pop-up window and carry on with your browsing. However, you should also change certain iPhone settings to stop pop-ups to some extent.
- Open Settings -> Safari. Toggle on the Block Pop-ups feature.
- Scroll down to Advanced -> Website Data -> Remove All Website Data.