THREAT REMOVAL

PlayThunder Offers Redirect Removal — Browser Restore Instructions

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.

Threat Summary

NamePlayThunder Offers
TypeBrowser Hijacker, PUP
Short DescriptionThe hijacker redirect can alter the homepage, search engine and new tab on every browser application you have installed.
SymptomsThe 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 MethodFreeware Installations, Bundled Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin 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.
  • Bottom Menu Bar — Shows links to the privacy policy and terms of use documents.

Other web elements can be added to the site dynamically.

PlayThunder Offers – Privacy Policy

The PlayThunder Offers redirect is governed by the rules specified in the privacy policy and terms of service documents. They state that once the site is visited a tracking cookie is registered in the web browser and identifies each user. This tracking technology is also used by any advertising or third-party sites.

The privacy policy reads that if the users consent to the data release. Some of the information that is collected may include the following:

  • 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.
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Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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

How to Remove PlayThunder Offers from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove PlayThunder Offers

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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers:

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 PlayThunder Offers. 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 PlayThunder Offers. 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers. 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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 PlayThunder Offers 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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