THREAT REMOVAL

Why Can’t I Remove DNS Unlocker?

STF-dns-unlocker-2016-adware-ads-main-site-page

DNS Unlocker has been around for a few years now, and still continues to be one of the most persistent adware pieces in the wild. In 2017, catching an intrusive and persistent potentially unwanted program like DNS Unlocker continues to be one of the nastiest unwanted PC intrusions. Perhaps you have encountered that nasty piece of code yourself, believing it will truly unlock geographically restricted websites, as suggested by its name.

Update April 2017. Unfortunately, DNS Unlocker is still active in the wild, affecting users and flooding them with ads. Having an intrusive adware such as DNS Unlocker running in the background of your system, however, may have worse outcomes than the display of unwanted ads. On top of everything else, the adware is quite challenging to uninstall from a system and has caused many headaches around the globe. This article provides detailed information about the adware and its methods of distribution. We have also provided an overview of the threat focusing on how it became so successful. It’s important to pay attention to these details. Knowing how the program sneaked into your system in the first place will help you prevent future intrusions. Education is the best prevention, especially when it comes to online threats. In addition, the fact that multiple antivirus programs detect the threat hasn’t stopped it from accessing users’ systems. Continue reading to learn how the initial intrusion may have happened.

Threat Summary

NameDNS Unlocker
TypeAdware, PUP
Short DescriptionDNS Unlocker states to help users unlock geo-restricted sites and provide a better and faster experience. However, it is filled with advertisements and considered an adware and unwanted application.
SymptomsYour DNS settings get mixed up. You might see your search engine changed or in a different language. Lots of advertisements associated with DNS Unlocker can show up when browsing.
Distribution MethodFreeware Installations, Bundle Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss DNS Unlocker.


When Did the DNS Unlocker Nightmare Begin?

The very first time the program landed the Internet is in the autumn of 2014, when users were first tricked by the luring promise of DNS Unlocker. Our research indicates that back then the program was referred to as Netflix DNS Unlocker, maybe because it was somehow associated with Netflix or because it was advertised like this on dnsunlocker(.)com. Indeed, the Netflix logo is still situated on the homepage of the adware, along with other services DNS Unlocker promises to unlock.

dns-unlocker-services-sforum

Whatever the case was, the scenario worked because soon after its first release, there were many victims complaining over the Internet, sharing negative experience and trying to figure out a way to completely remove DNS Unlocker.

Not surprisingly, a counter-action followed on the side of the developers of the adware. In 2015 the direct download button on the dnsunlocker(.)com site was removed, and later in the year, its Privacy Policy was changed. However, disabling the direct download didn’t mean that the program ceased to exist. That’s a general practice often used by developers of unwanted software. The app just moved to bundling, meaning that it was distributed packed with other dubious software pieces.

According to a research, titled Investigating Commercial Pay-Per-Install and the Distribution of Unwanted Software, unwanted software and particularly the pay-per-install method is part of highly profitable global industry, protected by layers of deniability. No wonder the bundle business is so successful!

DNS Unlocker Distributed via the Pay-Per-Install Scheme?

Indeed, there’s a strong connection between pay-per-install practices and the spread of unwanted applications.

Symantec researchers have previously dubbed pay-per-install “the new malware distribution network”, stressing on the fact that in the foreseeable past malware (like worms) was self-propagating with the help of server-side vulnerabilities. The research results also depict the deceptive practices of some commercial PPI operators that currently persevere, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

Commercial PPI is a very effective monetization scheme where third-party programs are bundled with legitimate software. Even though it hasn’t been confirmed that the developers of DNS Unlocker have adopted this distribution method, we wouldn’t be surprised if DNS Unlocker was indeed distributed this way. It’s the easiest way to monetize software, be it bad or good.

Read More about the Pay-Per-Install Affiliate Business for Millions

What’s indeed quite surprising about DNS Unlocker is that it’s still successfully affecting users all over the world! Even though multiple antivirus programs detect the threat, users are still being entangled in its tentacles.

Here’s the VirusTotal list of antivirus programs detecting DNS Unlocker. The list is based on a scan of the file dnslockington.exe:

→ALYac Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
AVG: Downloader.AJUQ
AVware: Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT
Ad-Aware: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
AegisLab: Adware.Msil.Dnsunlocker!c
AhnLab-V3: PUP/Win32.DNSUnlocker.C1346319
Antiy-AVL: GrayWare[AdWare:not-a-virus,HEUR]/MSIL.DNSUnlocker
Arcabit: Trojan.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
Avast: Win32:Adware-gen [Adw] Avira (no cloud): ADWARE/CloudGuard.678912
BitDefender: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
CAT-QuickHeal: Adware.CloudGuard.r3 (Not a Virus)
Comodo: ApplicUnwnt
CrowdStrike Falcon: (ML) malicious_confidence_62% (D)
Cyren: W32/Adware.MBZU-9272
DrWeb: Adware.DnsChange.5
ESET-NOD32: a variant of MSIL/Adware.CloudGuard.C
Emsisoft: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1 (B)
F-Secure: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker
Fortinet: Adware/DNSUnlocker
GData: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
Ikarus: AdWare.MSIL.Cloudguard
Jiangmin: AdWare.MSIL.rca
K7AntiVirus: Adware ( 004ddf161 )
K7GW: Adware ( 004ddf161 )
Kaspersky: not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.MSIL.DNSUnlocker.gen
Malwarebytes: Adware.CloudGuard
McAfee: RDN/Generic PUP.x
McAfee-GW-Edition: RDN/Generic PUP.x
eScan: Gen:Variant.Adware.DNSUnlocker.1
NANO-Antivirus: Trojan.Win32.DnsChange.ebolyn
Panda: Trj/GdSda.A
Rising: Trojan.Generic-d1ixWH300GR (Cloud)
SUPERAntiSpyware: Adware.CloudGuard/Variant
Sophos: Generic PUA OH (PUA)
Symantec: Trojan.Zlob.Q
Tencent: Msil.Adware.Cloudguard.Anfq
TrendMicro: PUA_DNSUnlocker.GA
TrendMicro-HouseCall: PUA_DNSUnlocker.GA
VIPRE: Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT
ViRobot: Adware.Agent.678912.G[h] Yandex: PUA.CloudGuard!
Zillya: Adware.DNSUnlocker.Win32.28

DNS Unlocker is a great illustration of how well dubious developers are acquainted with human psychology. Part of the success of the adware is the very fact that it was advertised as a mean to access to inaccessible content, freely. However, nothing in life comes for free, as victims tricked by the promise ended up with systems compromised by multiple adware.

Did you know that DNS Unlocker has many iterations? The last DNS Unlocker version was 1.4. Process executables related to DNS Unlocker have versions and the names of American towns and municipalities associated with them:

  • DNSridgewood.exe
  • DNSpallenville.exe
  • DNSlockington.exe

How to Rid Your System of DNS Unlocker?

Because DNS Unlocker is very aggressive, simply deleting some of its files may not work to remove it permanently. If you want to try, you can remove it from your computer manually by following the step-by-step removal guide provided below. In case the manual removal method does not get rid of DNS Unlocker and all of its associated files, then you may want to try removing it with an advanced anti-malware tool. A tool like that can also keep your computer more secure in the future.

Besides following the steps below to remove the adware, you should also consider checking your DNS servers. More particularly, inspect the settings of your DNS server address and configure them if they are modified without your knowledge. In case they are tampered, you can use the IP addresses like the Google Public DNS.

Milena Dimitrova

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the beginning. Focused on user privacy and malware development, she strongly believes in a world where cybersecurity plays a central role. If common sense makes no sense, she will be there to take notes. Those notes may later turn into articles! Follow Milena @Milenyim

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove DNS Unlocker from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove DNS Unlocker

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall DNS Unlocker and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by DNS Unlocker on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by DNS Unlocker there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for DNS Unlocker with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

Get rid of DNS Unlocker from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall DNS Unlocker and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to DNS Unlocker:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to DNS Unlocker. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to DNS Unlocker. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove DNS Unlocker via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as DNS Unlocker. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove DNS Unlocker from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase DNS Unlocker from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall DNS Unlocker from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove DNS Unlocker from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the DNS Unlocker will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate DNS Unlocker from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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