Everyone loves to win.
This is the mindset behind hackers launching and getting away with the ‘Congratulations you have won’ virus for some time now. Even when you do not contest in any reasonable competition or do something tangible, you suddenly start getting these messages.
Unlike the usual popups, this one is a virus. Thus, you must learn how to remove the ‘congratulations you have won virus’ from your device by yourself.
This guide is a non-technical approach to eliminating the virus. All you need is a basic knowledge of your smartphone/ computers.
Overview of the Virus
The ‘Congratulations you have won’ virus is not designed to execute like most computer viruses that you know. They are, instead, engineered to trick unsuspecting users into revealing the sensitive information of their own will.
The perpetrators of this virus offer very tempting prizes (a new iPhone, latest Samsung device, PlayStation units, Walmart gift cards, etc) in exchange for a seemingly simple task. Most times, the task is as simple as filling out a survey.
The survey also looks highly legitimate so users don’t feel anything amiss.
The catch is often at the end of such surveys where the users are asked to enter information ranging from their names and email addresses to even credit card details. You might not want to offer your credit card details at first but be cajoled into doing so to facilitate payment for the gift shipment to your location.
Hackers are gaining more success with this virus as they are now able to clone/ spoof legitimate brands’ identities to make users trust them even more.
What You Should Never Do
Knowing what to never do when faced with this virus is also important in its prevention and control.
For one, never interact with the pop-up ads at all. This means not even clicking the ‘Close,’ ‘Cancel,’ ‘X’, or any other related button.
A general ad malware study revealed that hackers can program malicious codes into these cancel buttons. Thus, the user thinks that they are clearing the popup, but they are executing a part of the malware by clicking on the button.
It is recommended that you simply close the browser tab/ page where this popup appears, use the back button or leave the browser.
Can iPhones Get the Congratulations You Have Won Virus?
There is the general belief that Apple’s devices (the iPhone, iPad, and Macs) are better protected against virus attacks than their Android counterparts. There are a lot of cases to debunk that but that is not the discussion for today.
The iOS world treats this virus as the ‘Calendar’ virus due to its mode of injection onto the devices. It also comes in the basic ‘Congratulations you have won’ form but that is more common on Android and Windows devices.
Remove ‘Congratulations you have won’ virus from Android Devices
Android devices are more susceptible to this virus than their iOS/ macOS counterparts. Fortunately, it is also easy to remove the virus from this device.
There are a handful of methods that you can apply here.
Method #1 – Use antivirus software
Reputable antivirus brands have designed their security solutions against the congratulations you have won virus threats too.
Installing and running this software will find out the virus registry on your Android device to delete them all. This process does a deeper scan of your device than you might be able to.
You can get Sparta Antivirus for a single-click scan and the elimination of this virus on your unit. Once eliminated, the antivirus also keeps you safe and secure against future versions of the virus and other computer viruses.
Pro Tip: always keep your antivirus software updated. That keeps you up to speed against current virus definiens lest hackers find you out.
Method #2 – Manual Removal
If you are comfortable digging around your device yourself, this virus can also be manually removed.
Follow the steps below for manual removal:
- Go to your Android device’s ‘Settings’ tab
- Click on the ‘App/ Applications’ tab
- Tap on the ‘Downloaded’ section (for phones with such options).
- Look for the ‘Congratulations you have won’ file
- Manually uninstall the apk file from your device
Once removed from the app library, ensure the virus never makes its way back. Follow the steps below:
- Locate your browser apps under the App Library section
- Force stop the browser
- Clear all browser cookies and cache files
Note that this process will sign you out of most websites and remove your saved preferences on some websites. That is a small price to pay for getting rid of this virus.
Restart your Android device after you have completed these steps and you should have gotten rid of the virus.
Method #3 – Factory Reset
In the rare case that the problem is not eliminated by the steps above, perform a factory reset on your Android device. Restore your files from backup when you finish with the reset and keep using your device as new.
Make sure you have tried the first method on the list before you resort to a full system wipe though.
Remove Congratulations You Have Won Virus from iPhone/ iOS
It is also easy to get rid of this virus on an iOS device. The two methods in the guide below will get the virus off your unit in no time.
Method #1 – Use a Malware Removal Tool
There are varying versions of the congratulations you have won virus on iOS devices. Some even affect the stock Calendar app, showing how deep they can go. You would, thus, need reputable antimalware to get rid of the virus once and for all.
Method #2 – Delete Suspicious Calendars
When this virus has already infected the Calendar app, deleting unknown calendars on the iOS unit can help get rid of it.
Try these steps:
- Launch your calendar app
- Click on the ‘Calendars’ tab at the base of the page
- Look through all the displayed calendars for those you did not add
- Delete all suspicious calendars and leave your trusted calendars
Method #3 – Browser Cleaning
Total cleaning of your browsers ensures you are not leaving shreds of the virus behind on your device.
- Launch your browsers
- Clean out your cache and cookies. You can find a guide on how to clean iOS browser cache and cookies here
- Delete your browser history
- Remove push notifications from your browsers
- Delete suspicious browser extensions from your list
Security Tip: in some instances, you keep seeing the popups after clearing your browser history. If you have the Facebook app installed, note that it uses its internal browser. Launch the app to clean out the browser history with the following steps:
- Tap the menu (three horizontal lines in the bottom right corner) button
- Click on the ‘Settings and Privacy’ tab
- Click on the ‘Settings’ tab that comes up
- Tap on the ‘Browser’ tab under the ‘Media and Contacts’ section. It is usually at the base of the page.
- Click on ‘Clear’ to clean the browsing data on this browser also.
General Protection Tips Against the Virus
Now that you have cleaned the virus, or even if you didn’t have it on your device at all, you still need to say protected against it. These tips will help prevent an occurrence/ re-occurrence:
- Never sideload apps. Hackers can bundle the virus into apps that you install from untrusted sources
- Always update your apps to the latest version as soon as it is available
- Update your device firmware to the latest version as soon as it is available
- Beware of malicious websites on the internet
- Have a robust antimalware program providing real-time security on your device
- Never enter into online contests that are not from reputable companies
- Even when the contest looks to be from a trusted company, never enter any sensitive or personal details.