The article will aid you to remove FreeLocalWeather completely. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions provided at the bottom of this article.
FreeLocalWeather is a browser hijacker redirect developed by the MindSpark. Its website will redirect you to its search engine or another malicious site. While using its services, you can find yourself on pages with lots of adverts and sponsored content that go through this hijacker. The hijacker will change the start page, new tab, and search settings for the browser applications you have on your computer machine.
|Type||Browser Hijacker, PUP|
|Short Description||Each browser application on your computer could get affected. The hijacker can redirect you and will display lots of advertisements.|
|Symptoms||Browser settings which are altered are the homepage, search engine and the new tab.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss FreeLocalWeather hijacker.|
FreeLocalWeather Hijacker – Methods of Distribution
The FreeLocalWeather hijacker is a typical infection that is caused by the installation of the redirect code. Like other common threats the criminals behind it will utilize several different methods of infection in order to increase the number of affected victims.
The most widely used mechanism is to upload dangerous browser extensions to the relevant repositories of the most popular web browsers. They are often accompanied by a description promising enhancements or the inclusion of new features. They are often uploaded with fake developer credentials and user reviews.
An alternative strategy would be to use email messages that are sent in bulk and contain social engineering scams. They are designed to appear as being sent by a legitimate service or Internet site that the recipients might use. In their body contents the users are coerced into downloading the extension by clicking on the built-links. They can also be directly embedded as file attachments.
The hackers can boost the infections by setting up malicious hacker pages that advertise the browser hijacker. They can pose as well-known Internet services, portals or review pages. When the users open them up the built-in contents will contain advertisements and various other tactics that will manipulate the users into installing them.
An alternative method is the spread of the malware files via file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent. They are often used to spread both contents like free audio books and open-source programs to pirate content like movies and software. This makes them very suitable for distributing hijacker payloads, two well-known example are the following:
- Malicious Software Installers — The hackers can embed scripts into setup files that will install the threat when they are interacted with. The criminals will take the real installers of popular software and modify them with the necessary code. As soon as they are engaged the virus will be deployed to the machines.
- Infected Documents — All popular document types can be used as payload carriers of the FreeLocalWeather hijacker: rich text documents, presentations, databases and spreadsheets. Whenever they are opened a prompt will appear asking the users to enable the built-in scripts. If this is done the scripts will download the hijacker code from a remote server and execute it on the local machine.
During our analysis we have found that most of the methods also deliver additional payloads, in most cases they are other hijackers. They are usually chosen by a sponsorship — every installed payload will lead to income generation for the operators.
FreeLocalWeather Hijacker – In-Depth Description
Once installed the FreeLocalWeather hijacker will follow the classic behavior tactics of changing the default settings in order to redirect the victims to a predefined hacker-controlled page. The attributes that are modified include the following: home page, search engine and new tabs page. This is done for every installed compatible browser on the local machine. The next time the users open up their application windows they will be shown the page.
During the installation of the threat system changes can occur. Depending on the exact configuration they can be different as every single infection can proceed according to the deployed configuration options. Such actions include modifications to the Windows Registry. If they are done to the operating system then serious performance issues will be perceived by the users. Changes to specific applications or services may make certain functions unusable or altogether make them unable to launch.
A related mechanism is the set up of the FreeLocalWeather hijacker as a persistent threat which is done by changing Windows values, configuration files and boot options. This may block access to the recovery boot menu and other areas which are commonly used within manual restore guides. In such cases the victims will need to use a quality anti-spyware solution, refer to our removal instructions.
Infections like the FreeLocalWeather hijacker may also deliver other threats such as ransomware and Trojans. This is done as the redirect installation code can be coupled with a stealth bypass module. It will scan the local system for any security software that can block the hijacker installation: anti-virus and firewall engines. Some of the samples can also detect if they are running within a debug environment or a virtual machine. If such are detected the engine will shut down itself in order to avoid detection.
The FreeLocalWeather hijacker will display a web site that uses a familiar-looking template and customized search engine forms. The design elements and content may confuse them into thinking that they have accessed a legitimate and trustworthy services.
The site design features several main elements:
- Top Menu Bar — It includes a search engine box and links to several weather-related services.
- Main Search Engine — This is the main interactive element of the site and it is placed in the center of the page. Below them are placed various social networks and services.
Warning! If the victim users interact with any of the sites or the search engines it is very possible that all entered information, including account credentials will be automatically forwarded to the operators.
Additional dangers include the installation of tracking cookies or a stand-alone data harvesting module. This is a common mechanism in advanced malware strains where they can be used to extract parameters used to assign each device an individual ID. They are made by creating a report of all installed components, operating system variables and user settings. The other type of hijacked data is the one that can expose the identity of the victims. It is compiled of strings that include the user’s name, address, interests and any stored account credentials. They can search both the operating system contents and any third-party applications.
Browser hijackers like this one are also capable of being used as payload delivery devices for other malware, some of the most common examples are the following:
- Ransomware — These are file-encrypting viruses that target sensitive user daa which is processed by a strong cipher. As soon as they are deployed onto the victim systems a built-in list of target file type extensions will be used to determine what data is to be affected.
- Trojan Horses — They will place a local client service which will establish a secure connection to a hacker-controlled server. It allows the hacker operators to take over control of the affected systems, hijack files and also install other threats.
- Cryptocurrency Miners — They can be embedded in scripts or small programs and will be run as soon as their deployment is complete. Their main task is to carry out complex mathematical calculations by taking advantage of the available system resources. As soon as a task is completed and reported the operators will receive income in cryptocurrency form. It will automatically be transferred over to their wallets.
Alternative names under which it is known include the following:
- Your name
- Your address
- Email address
- Number of your page views
- What links you clicked
- Telephone number
- Your login times
Remove FreeLocalWeather Browser Hijacker
To remove FreeLocalWeather manually from your computer, follow the step-by-step removal instructions provided below. In case the manual removal does not get rid of the hijacker redirect and its files completely, you should search for and remove any leftovers with an advanced anti-malware tool. Such a program can keep your computer safe in the future.
What Is FreeLocalWeather hijacker?
The FreeLocalWeather hijacker threat is adware or browser redirect virus.
It may slow your computer down significantly and display advertisements. The main idea is for your information to likely get stolen or more ads to appear on your device.
The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your computer to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your OS.
What Are the Symptoms of FreeLocalWeather hijacker?
There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also unwanted apps in general are active:
Symptom #1: Your computer may become slow and have poor performance in general.
Symptom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.
Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.
Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.
Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Task Manager.
If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts recommend that you check your computer for viruses.
What Types of Unwanted Programs Are There?
According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently affect your Mac can be the following types:
- Rogue Antivirus programs.
- Browser hijackers.
- Fake optimizers.
What to Do If I Have a "virus" like FreeLocalWeather hijacker?
With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.
Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your email passwords.
Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.
Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activities with your card.
Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.
Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.
Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.
Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.
Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.
If you follow these recommendations, your network and all devices will become significantly more secure against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.
How Does FreeLocalWeather hijacker Work?
Once installed, FreeLocalWeather hijacker can collect data about your web browsing habits, such as the websites you visit and the search terms you use. This data is then used to target you with ads or to sell your information to third parties.
FreeLocalWeather hijacker can also download other malicious software onto your computer, such as viruses and spyware, which can be used to steal your personal information and show risky ads, that may redirect to virus sites or scams.
Is FreeLocalWeather hijacker Malware?
The truth is that PUPs (adware, browser hijackers) are not viruses, but may be just as dangerous since they may show you and redirect you to malware websites and scam pages.
Many security experts classify potentially unwanted programs as malware. This is because of the unwanted effects that PUPs can cause, such as displaying intrusive ads and collecting user data without the user’s knowledge or consent.
About the FreeLocalWeather hijacker Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this FreeLocalWeather hijacker how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific, adware-related problem, and restore your browser and computer system.
How did we conduct the research on FreeLocalWeather hijacker?
Please note that our research is based on independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware, adware, and browser hijacker definitions.
Furthermore, the research behind the FreeLocalWeather hijacker threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand this online threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.