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The Thin Red Line Between Potentially Unwanted Programs and Malware

The Thin Red Line Between Potentially Unwanted Programs and Malware-sensorstechforum-com

What’s a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) Exactly?

PUP is short for “potentially unwanted program” (sometimes referred to as PUA, potentially unwanted application), even though a better name would be “absolutely unwanted programs”. At best, these programs provide little to no benefit, and at worst, they can be quite harmful to your system. In addition to taking up space on your hard drive, they also slow down your computer, often change settings without your say-so, the list of annoying features goes on and on. While this is obnoxious, the worst part of installing a PUP is the adware, spyware and keystroke loggers that lurk inside. That’s why you should take special care to study and avoid these PUPs!

Examples of PUAs:

As you can see, both macOS and Windows users are targeted by PUAs. A 2020 study also revealed that an average of 11 threats per Mac was registered in 2019. This is nearly double the average percentage per one Windows computer. In other words, it turns out that the average number of threats detected on Macs is not only increasing but it is also surpassing Windows, making macOS more susceptible to potentially unwanted apps that Windows.

According to recent statistics provided by Kaspersky Labs, in Q3 of 2021, 62,577,326 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects were detected, meaning that this threat continues to evolve.

How Can Unwanted Apps Breach Your System?

Getting a PUP into your PC can be very easy if you’re not careful. Sometimes a useful program will be bundled with “crapware” PUPs you don’t need. While you’re installing the useful program, the wizard will include options to install various programs, some of which are PUPs. They appear under the “Advanced” or “Custom” options of the installation wizard. When you click them, the list of bundled programs should be visible. Be sure to opt out of installing any programs you don’t want.

Despite being considered very unethical in software circles, unwanted programs aren’t necessarily viruses or malware, because they require the user’s permission to be installed. A virus needs to come in through the backdoor, while PUPs are invited through the front gates. That’s why anti-virus programs can’t classify them as a threat and may not remove them. It’s a catch 22; PUPs are almost always bad for the user, but they can’t be banned or considered viruses. The main reason is that bundling programs aren’t inherently illegal or bad.

Note!Not all bundled programs are PUPs. Some of them might even be desirable for the user and even big name companies like Microsoft and Adobe bundle their products. It’s impossible to make a legal distinction between what’s “potentially unwanted” and what plain unwanted. In addition to that, PUP developers would often go to court when an anti-virus program classify their programs as viruses.

What’s the Actual Harm of Potentially Unwanted Apps?

As mentioned beforehand, PUPs can bring on adware, spyware, keystroke logging and other nasty crapware “features”. PUPs can change your browser settings, putting new search engines, home pages and apps that can be a pain to remove, excessive and intrusive ads, popups and banners, and many other forms of annoying advertisement. Adware PUPs usually induce excessive ads, usually of the “one weird trick to lose weight” or “make lots of money just by staying at home” variety. Keystroke logging is a method of stealing personal information by recording everything written on the recorded keyboard, including passwords and codes. Spyware records the user’s actions and online behavior. That information, more often than not, goes to untrustworthy online places.

Who Benefits from PUPs?

PUP distribution can be quite lucrative. As we’ve established, combating PUPs is difficult, so it’s a lower risk endeavor than spreading viruses. Mindspark is a good example of a company that’s almost exclusively devoted to spreading PUPs. QuickPhotoEdit, TestForSpeed(.)com and FromDocToPDF(.)com are just a few recent examples of their many PUP products.

How to Protect Your System from PUPs

As annoying a PUPs can be, their installation can be avoided easily by user vigilance.

Here are a few easy steps you can take to avoid installing PUPs:

  • Don’t download programs from Internet ads, pop-ups, torrent trackers, file sharing sites and other unreliable sources.
  • Opt out of the setting hidden in the “Custom” or “Advanced” sections when you’re installing a program. You can deselect most PUPs from there.
  • Avoid installing programs you don’t need.
  • Keep an eye out of any excessive or unusual Internet advertising. These ads can be brought on by PUPs and adware attached to your browser.
  • Read the terms and conditions of use when you install any programs.
  • Check your installed software regularly and uninstall any applications you do not want or need.
  • Install an anti-PUP program. Most security software can’t outright delete PUPs, but some of them can discover and warn the user, so he or she can do it by themselves. Some anti-virus programs have ant-PUP capabilities that are disabled by default, so make sure to turn them on. An anti-spyware program will also do the trick as it strictly watches out for spying components (like tracking cookies).

Remember that even though PUPs can be damaging to your PC, they can’t get into your PC without your permission, so be alert not to give it to them. As always, good cyber-security etiquette can prevent most online threats.

Milena Dimitrova

An inspired writer and content manager who has been with SensorsTechForum since the project started. A professional with 10+ years of experience in creating engaging content. 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 Stop Push Pop-ups

How to Remove from Windows.


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

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 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 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 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 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 Stop Push Pop-ups

Get rid of from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall 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 :

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 . 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 . 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 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 . 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 files from your Mac

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


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for :


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer Stop Push Pop-ups


Remove 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 Stop Push Pop-ups


Erase 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 Stop Push Pop-ups


Uninstall 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 Stop Push Pop-ups


Remove 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 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 Stop Push Pop-ups


Eliminate 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.


Remove Push Notifications caused by from Your Browsers.


Turn Off Push Notifications from Google Chrome

To disable any Push Notices from Google Chrome browser, please follow the steps below:

Step 1: Go to Settings in Chrome.

settings

Step 2: In Settings, select “Advanced Settings”:

advanced settings

Step 3: Click “Content Settings”:

Content Settings

Step 4: Open “Notifications”:

notifications

Step 5: Click the three dots and choose Block, Edit or Remove options:

Block, Edit or Remove

Remove Push Notifications on Firefox

Step 1: Go to Firefox Options.

options

Step 2: Go to “Settings”, type “notifications” in the search bar and click "Settings":

Settings

Step 3: Click “Remove” on any site you wish notifications gone and click “Save Changes”

remove push notifications firefox

Stop Push Notifications on Opera

Step 1: In Opera, press ALT+P to go to Settings

opera

Step 2: In Setting search, type “Content” to go to Content Settings.

content settings

Step 3: Open Notifications:

notifications

Step 4: Do the same as you did with Google Chrome (explained below):

three dots

Eliminate Push Notifications on Safari

Step 1: Open Safari Preferences.

preferences

Step 2: Choose the domain from where you like push pop-ups gone and change to "Deny" from "Allow".



FAQ

What is ?

The threat is adware or browser redirect virus. It may slow your computer down siginficantly 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 ?

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 has poor performance in general.

Symtpom #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 reccomend 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.
  • Adware.
  • Browser hijackers.
  • Clickers.
  • Fake optimizers.

What to do if I have a "virus" like ?

Do not panic! You can easily get rid of most adware or unwanted program threats by firstly isolating them and then removing them from your browser and computer. One reccomended way to do that is by using a reputable malware removal software that can take care of the removal automatically for you. There are many anti-malware apps out there that you can choose from. SpyHunter is one of the reccomended anti-malware apps, that can scan your computer for free and detect any viruses, tracking cookies and unwanted adware apps and eliminate them quickly. This saves time when compared to doing the removal manually.

How to secure my passwords and other data from ?

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 e-mail 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 activiites 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 reccomendations, 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.

More tips you can find on our website, where you can also ask any questions and comment underneath the articles about your computer problems. We will try to respond as fast as possible.

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