Warning of possibly harmful website or software - How to deal with it?

Examples of security warnings that you might see when you download software from the internet

While you download software applications from the internet, when you try to run them, Windows or your Antivirus software might give you some warnings or even block the application from running. Common types of warnings are the following:

  1. [Filename] was blocked because it could harm your device.
  2. This app could harm your device.
    This app might harm your device
    Microsoft Defender SmartScreen reported that this app is not commonly downloaded or it not signed by its publisher.
  3. Threat blocked. Infection: DRep.
  4. Windows protected your PC
    how to bypass windows 10 microsoft defender smartscree
    Windows SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk.

Which software is showing these warnings?

It might be your antivirus software, your internet browser, or the operating system that generate these warnings.

For example, Windows 8 and Windows 10 come with Microsoft Defender and SmartScreen which monitor the websites you are visiting and the software you download. They might issue warnings about certain application files. Unfortunately, this happens mostly for the software of small developers as their software applications are not so frequently used as the software of the big software developers.

If the warning a false alarm or a true threat?

If you receive such a warning from your internet browser (Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge) or by your antivirus software, you have to decide if this a "false positive" (false alarm) or a true threat.

If the warning message has the name of a specific virus, then you should probably not proceed. If the name of the virus contains the word "generic" then probably this is a guess from the antivirus program and is possibly a false positive. You should inform the publisher/creator of the software and ask for their advice.

How to bypass the warning "exe was blocked because it could harm your device" of Microsoft Edge

For example, when a user clicks on the Download button of our screensaver for Windows, the download starts and a warning might appear:

"starmessage-setup.exe was blocked because it could harm your device"

Microsoft Edge does not give any more arguments, why this file could harm the computer, and proposes to delete this file.

warning software was blocked because it could harm your device

To keep the file, press the 3 dots and select "Keep".

How to bypass the warning "This app might harm your device" of Microsoft Defender SmartScreen

Going further, after you selected to keep the downloaded software app, Microsoft Defender SmartScreen comes on and might throw the message "This app might harm your device".

The reason for this warning is that the app is not commonly downloaded or is not signed by its publisher. (In our case, we sign our StarMessage Screensaver since the 5.9.3 version).

So, there is something wrong with the contents of the file itself. The warning is issued only because SmartScreen has not statistically seen many downloads of it. This is a hit to the small, independent developers.

This app might harm your device

To bypass the message, click on "Show more".

Microsoft defender SmartScreen: This app might harm your device

If you trust and want to help the maker of the software, you can report the app as safe. If enough users do that, the warning will eventually be removed.

Select "Keep anyway" to dismiss this warning.

Finally, the software application download will be available under your Microsoft Edge downloads.

Microsoft Edge downloads

Click on the name of the download to install the software.


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