FIX: Windows Defender security center has a red X [Solved]

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Madalina has been a Windows fan ever since she got her hands on her first Windows XP computer. She is interested in all things technology, especially emerging technologies -- AI and DNA computing in... Read more
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  • If your Windows Defender icon shows a red X, it is probably a UI problem.
  • This issue usually happens after installing a newer version of Windows.
  • Getting a red circle with a white X logo might mean that your Firewall isn't working.
  • Note that you can get rid of the visual error by restarting your device.
windows defender icon change
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Following the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, many users have reported that after doing a full scan, the Windows Defender shield changes.

The antivirus switches from all-white to a red circle containing a white X overlaying the lower right quadrant of the shield. The next question is: what does this new icon mean?

For the time being, no one can answer this question, the red circle with the white X overlay is as mysterious as the Bermuda triangle. The good news is that Windows Defender appears to be up and running.

All the status indicators are normal: the antivirus indicates the PC is being monitored and protected, real-time protection is on, and the virus and spyware definitions are up to date.

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The Windows Defender shield overlay puzzles users

One user stated the following:

After the Windows 10 Anniversary update and after doing a full scan, the Windows Defender shield switches from all white to the following image (a red circle containing a white X overlaying the lower right quadrant of the shield.)  What does it mean?

All the Insiders who joined the conversation on a forum thread have confirmed they have never seen this overlay before.

Some even said the overlay is certainly an interesting anomaly. However, we wouldn’t haste to say that, taking into account that Windows Defender appears to be running normally.

Perhaps, this Windows Defender firewall red x is a new part of the overlay that Microsoft forgot to introduce.

How do I get rid of the Windows Defender overlay problem?

1. Restart Windows Defender

  1. Click on the Windows Defender icon from the System tray.
  2. Next, click on the Gear icon.
  3. Then, click on Windows Defender.
  4. It may appear to be On. Turn it Off, then On again.

If this strange Windows Defender shield overlay really annoys you, simply turn off the antivirus and then turn it back on. According to users’ reports, this simple action makes the mysterious overlay disappear.

I also had this issue. Here was my solution. Click on the Windows Defender icon in the system tray. Click on the gear (settings) icon. Click on Window Defender. It may appear here to be “On”. Turn it “Off” and turn it “On” again. Worked for me. Good luck all!

2. Run a System Scan

  1. Press the Windows Key + S and type in Command Prompt.
  2. Right-click on it and choose run as administrator.
  3. Type the following and press Enter: sfc /scannow
  4. Wait for the process to finish.

Running a System Scan will solve most system problems, and seeing as the Windows Defender is integrated into the system, it should solve the Windows Defender shield red cross problem.

3. Run a DISM scan

  1. Press the Windows Key + S and type in Command Prompt.
  2. In Command Prompt, type in DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
  3. You can also type: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  4. You can then run the following command again: sfc /scannow
  5. Wait for the process to finish.

4. Restart your device

This might be just a visual bug, due to some conflicting software. If your Windows Defender is actually running fine even if the icon is different, you should be safe.

Restarting your device might solve this issue, although it’s not guaranteed. Most likely, this is a problem from Microsoft’s end and it will fix itself in time.

This concludes our article. We gave you an overview of this strange behaviour from Windows Defender.

Have a look at this thorough list of the best antivirus software with a lifetime license and choose one to protect you from any dangerous software.

If you know what this Windows Defender icon overlay means, you can tell us more about it in the comment section below.

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