As scareware has evolved, new features designed to increase shock have been employed. A recent trend in scareware is for the application to masquerade as a game of concentration, such as navigating a maze; the effect of showing a horrifying picture and sound are amplified.
Some websites display pop-up advertisement windows or banners with text such as: "Your computer may be infected with harmful spyware programs. Immediate removal may be required. To scan, click 'Yes' below." These websites go as far as saying that a user's job, career, or marriage would be at risk. Products using advertisements such as these are often considered scareware.
In recent findings some scareware is not affiliated with any other installed programs. A user can be approached with a popup from a website indicating that their PC is in fact infected. In some scenarios it is possible to become infected with scareware even if the user attempts to cancel the notification.
These popups are especially designed to look like they are from windows when they are actually a webpage.
In October 2008, Microsoft and the Washington attorney general filed a lawsuit against two Texas firms, Branch Software and Alpha Red, producers of the "Registry Cleaner XP" scareware. The lawsuit alleges that the company sent incessant pop-ups resembling system warnings to consumers' personal computers stating "CRITICAL ERROR MESSAGE! - REGISTRY DAMAGED AND CORRUPTED", before instructing users to visit a web site to download Registry Cleaner XP at a cost of $39.95.
In 2005, Microsoft and Washington state successfully sued Secure Computer (makers of Spyware Cleaner) for $1m over charges of using scareware popups. The attorney general has also brought lawsuits against Securelink Networks, High Falls Media and the makers of Quick Shield.
One example is SpySheriff, a program that purports to remove spyware, but is actually a piece of spyware in itself, often accompanying SmitFraud infections.