The article will help you to remove PlayThunder Offers fully. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions given at the end of the article.
The PlayThunder Offers redirect is a recently discovered browser plugin that can be used for hijacker purposes. Interaction with it can hijack personal data belonging to the victims. Our in-depth article explores some of the dangers associated with its presence on infected hosts.
|Type||Browser Hijacker, PUP|
|Short Description||The hijacker redirect can alter the homepage, search engine and new tab on every browser application you have installed.|
|Symptoms||The homepage, new tab and search engine of all your browsers will be switched to PlayThunder Offers. You will be redirected and could see sponsored content.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by PlayThunder Offers |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss PlayThunder Offers.|
PlayThunder Offers – Distribution Methods
The PlayThunder Offers redirect is caused mainly by a hijacker installation. So far it seems that it follows the typical distribution strategy whihc relies heavily on several main methods. One of them is the use of email SPAM messages that are created in bulk and send out social engineering infused messages. The hacker operators attempt to create fake copies of legitimate notifications sent by well-known Internet services. They can range from password reset to contract related messages and account controls. In all instances the hackers will attempt to coerce the users into downloading and running a file that will contain the virus infection. This can also be done via interaction with an infected payload. Two of the most popular types are the following:
- Infected Installers — The criminals can embed the PlayThunder Offers code into popular applications — the original installers are taken from the official vendor sites and modified to include the custom code. Typically popular software is chosen as the host application: system utilities, creativity suites, productivity and etc.
- Documents — A similar technique is used with documents of different types: rich text documents, presentations, databases and etc. Once they are opened by the victims a notification prompt will be spawned which asks the users to enable the built-in scripts. When this is done the virus infection will follow
Another method for spreading the PlayThunder Offers redirect is the spread of instances of the hijacker code on the extension repositories of the most widely used browsers. The hackers use fake credentials and user reviews in combination with an elaborate description that aims to coerce the victims into installing the relevant code.
The criminals can also create fake download sites that use the same templates as many famous Internet portals. The hackers behind it can also utilize similar sounding domain names.
PlayThunder Offers – Detailed Description
Once the PlayThunder Offers redirect is installed on the target machines it will start to execute the built-in behavior patterns. They can differ according to each target or the individual attack campaigns. However the captured strains seem to include the basic type of infection strategy like other similar threats.
It first launches a local data gathering component which starts to collect sensitive information about the victims and their machines. There are two main types that are classified by the security researchers:
- Private Data — The engine can be programmed to hijack information that is related to the victims, revealing their identity. This can include their name, address, telephone number, location, interests, passwords and etc.
- Campaign Metrics — Another set of data that is being gathered by the dangerous code is acquired at the same time and used by the criminals to optimize the attacks. The bulk of the gathered data consists of operating system values and a report of the installed hardware components.
The security analysis reveals that the PlayThunder Offers redirect has been found to use a white list that infects only certain systems based on their geographic location. Its algorithm is configured to reconfigure the victim browsers by changing the default settings: home page, new tabs page and search engine. As the infections happen from the web browser itself the malware engine also retrieves all potentially useful information from them: cookies, bookmarks, history, settings, passwords and etc.
The malware engine PlayThunder Offers redirect can also use the harvested information with a component called stealth protection. It scans the infected host for the presence of services and applications that can interfere with the correct execution. Examples include anti-virus programs, virtual machine hosts or sandbox environments. They can be bypassed or entirely removed by the engine.
Following the engine’s installation it can proceed with the changing of strings of the Windows Registry. When modifications are done to entries belonging to the operating system overall performance may suffer. When the changed strings reflect user-installed software or services some functions may be rendered non-working.
The associated virus engine can be configured to institute itself as a persistent threat by automatically starting itself every time the computer boots. Access to the recovery menu can be disabled which renders many manual removal methods non-working.
Threats like this one can be used to create a connection with a hacker-controlled server. This can lead to a Trojan-like instance that can take over control of the victim machines, spy on the users and also be used to deliver additional viruses to the infected hosts.
The site itself is modeled after a template engine that is popular with game publishers. It appears to feature content that may be pulled from other sites operated by the same developers or affiliate/partner ones. In order to present itself as a legitimate service it includes an email subscription form along with all required elements. The site has several main sections:
- Navigation Top Bar — The top menu bar allows the users to navigate to different parts of the site. As it is designed to appear as online gaming site it currently gives access to different categories of content.
- Featured Content — This part of the site gives further information on the individual games.
Other web elements can be added to the site dynamically.
- Personally-Identiifable Information — This data can be used to directly reveal the person’s identity by collecting their name, email address and other sensitive information.
- Anonymous Metrics — They are collected automatically by the tracking cookies and web beacons and consist of data about the user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), operating system, web browser and etc.
- Usage Information — The tracking cookies are used to spy on the interactions with the site.
- Social Media Data — If any connections, login attempts or other services connected with social media networks are made the site operators may accesss the transferred data.