If you wish to send our Spyware Research Team a sample, please use the SUPERSampleSubmit tool which may be downloaded HERE
Please ONLY submit files that you believe are threats. These samples will be placed into our queue for review and analysis.
If you wish to send our Spyware Research Team a sample, please use the SUPERSampleSubmit tool which may be downloaded HERE
Please ONLY submit files that you believe are threats. These samples will be placed into our queue for review and analysis.
You are browsing the web and accidentally land on a website with nonsensical characters instead of letters and you receive a prompt to download a missing font in order to read the website. You are told in order to fix the error and display the text, you have to update the “Chrome Font Pack”. Whatever you do, please do not click that blue Update button!
It is a scam designed to trick users into installing malware onto their systems. This malware is ranging from Ransomware, to Trojans, to various adware bundles.
How to avoid it
The fake dialogue box informing you that the “The HoeflerText Font Wasn’t Found” will claim you are using Chrome version 53 even if you are not using that version, which tells you something isn’t right and that the prompt you are seeing is fake.
Make sure you are using the latest version of Google Chrome which you can download by clicking here
Keep your personal information safe this tax season by doing a Free scan with SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition
We want to remind everyone that tax season is the time of increased attacks in the forms of spyware, various methods of phishing , and scams. Spyware and Malware authors significantly increase their activity during the tax season in order to try to steal data and withdraw money from bank accounts, steal credit cards, passwords, and other malicious acts.
During this tax season its important to do a few things to help protect yourself online:
1) Make sure your Operating System and software applications such as web browsers and email clients are up to date.
2) Run a Complete Scan with SUPERAntiSpyware regularly with the latest updates, at least twice a week during this period of increased activity.
3) Be cautious before visiting strange websites, or opening strange email attachments. Think before you click!
4) Manually erase, or use privacy software, to delete sensitive data from you PC. Spyware cannot steal what isn’t there!
5) Lookout for spam phishing email impersonating government, bank, or tax company officials asking for sensitive information.
Do you have any security recommendations that help you stay safe during the tax season? Feel free to leave a comment below!
You get a pop-up message that says you’re infected and for you to call “Microsoft” Tech Support with the provided number, a voice may come from your speaker instructs you that your data is in harm’s way and you should not shut off your PC. In a panic, PC users call this number and long story short, end up paying hundreds of dollars to a scam artist that claimed to fix something that was never an issue to begin with. This story is common today if you read the news.
A tech support scam artist claims to be an employee (or work with) of a major software company offering technical support to the victim. This can range from someone claiming to be your ISP, your cable provider, or even a Apple or Microsoft. The scam artist will claim the “company” has received notifications of errors, viruses, or issues from the victim’s PC. Scam artists are also claiming to work on behalf of the government to fight computer viruses and threats from enemy nations, hackers and terrorist organizations.
How they get you
Tech Support scam artists have a few tricks to try to extort you or scare you into paying them:
Cold Call. You’ll get a random call from the scammer who claims your PC is infected or has a serious error.
Pop-Up or Rogue Website. This is the more popular tactic where the victim will accidentally stumble upon a rogue website or receive a pop-up claiming you have a Windows OS Blue Screen Error, a massive data error, or a serious infection. Sometimes, it will lock your screen up and freeze your internet browser, or play a sound or voice over the speaker in an attempt to scare the victim. The pop-up or rogue website will always include the scam phone number for the victim to call.
Once you are speaking to them and letting them in
They will attempt to scare you further and instruct you to allow them to remote access your PC or devices to “fix” them. One they are in, they will claim they found the “errors” or “viruses” and ask you to pay for them to be removed, this usually amounts to hundreds of dollars. The money is collected from the victim usually by debit/credit card, wire transfer, or even prepaid gift carts!
If the tech support scammers are remotely accessing your devices, they can use this as a way to hold your information hostage and ransom you. They can intentionally install malware onto your PC, or steal your sensitive data on your PC such as passwords, financial accounts, and other data. There have been reports of the scammers becoming so agitated they have threatened to destroy the computer and all its data unless the victim pays on spot.
What can you do to stop them?
We at SUPERAntiSpyware recommend a few different forms of defense and mitigation against the plague of tech support scams:
Do NOT give out credit card or bank information.
Recognizing what is occurring and ending the call immediately if you are speaking to a tech support scammer.
Do not allow unknown and unverified organizations remote access your devices such as your phone or PC.
Make sure you are using the latest version of SUPERAntiSpyware and it is up to date.
If you see a pop-up or you stumble upon a rogue website that is claiming you are infected, have an error, or a Blue Screen of Death go ahead and close your web browser, if needed force it down via the Process Manager. If you cannot do that, reboot your machine.
If you are a victim
File a fraud report with your Bank or Card issuer immediately and stop payment, or see if you can dispute the payment if it has already been made.
File a Complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
Change your passwords to the services the tech support scam artists may have uncovered when they remote accessed your PC.
Remove any remote access software the scam artist may have had you install on your PC.
Security and privacy are some of the major concerns when using the internet. One of the more popular Open Source internet browsers Mozilla Firefox allows users to add extensions to the browser adding new functionality. Here are our picks for the top 5 Firefox security and privacy extensions that you should install for safer browsing along side using your SUPERAntiSpyware software on your PC.
Click on each link and it will bring you to the Firefox Extension website where you can learn more about the extension and its creators. Most of these extensions are available on other popular browsers, such as Google Chrome or Opera so do not feel limited to only Mozilla Firefox!
1) uBlock Origin – A lightweight ad-blocker and anti-tracking extension that is efficient on memory and CPU footprint.
2) Privacy Badger – Developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Privacy Badger is an anti-tracking extension that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from tracking where you go on the web. Privacy Badger Works great alongside uBlock Origin.
3) HTTPS Everywhere – Developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and The Tor Project. HTTPS Everywhere ensures that you always connect to a website using a secure HTTPS connection if one is available. HTTPS is a form of encryption making your browsing much more secure.
4) DuckDuckGo Plus – DuckDuckGo is the search engine that doesn’t track you. This add-on makes DuckDuckGo your default search engine and includes some other useful features.
Do you have any Mozilla Firefox extension recommendations? Feel free to leave a comment below!
Prevention is the best way to ensure you are never infected with spyware and your data is never lost or stolen. It is possible to clean up an infected machine and remove spyware but sometimes the damage from certain spyware, such as ransomware, cannot be fixed as files become encrypted or otherwise corrupted.
While no single solution available is a silver bullet, the following list outlines some of the best practices in lessening the risks of losing data after an infection:
1) Backup your files and software! Having backup copies of your photos, documents, software, and other files can make sure you never lose them to a malware infection such as ransomware encryption. Many people choose to use external drives or the cloud for their backups, but keep in mind that if you use external drives, the data can still be at risk if you leave your backup drives connected to your machine at all times.
We at SUPERAntiSpyware offer an Online Backup Solution as an optional service when purchasing SUPERAntiSpyware at $6.95 a month. This subscription allows you to back up and protect your important files and documents onto a cloud-like server so you always have copies of your important files. You can read more about our backup services here: https://www.backup.support.com
2) Keep SUPERAntiSpyware up to date and run regular scans. We update our definition list twice a day to make sure our users catch the latest threats, as well as periodically release software updates. It is imperative users keep up to date so their software continues finding the latest threats. In order to make sure that nothing creeps in between scans, we recommend regular scanning at least once a week, if not every day.
3) Update your Windows Operating System and Software you use. Make sure you always are using the latest version of Windows with the latest updates and security fixes. Most Windows updates are patches for existing and/or potential vulnerabilities, so keeping these holes filled is crucial in stopping the spread of malware. Additionally, using unsupported operating systems (anything older than Windows 7 as of right now) can leave you just as unprotected. If you are using web browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, or others, always make sure you are using the latest versions, and don’t forget to update any add-ons, plugins, or extensions you use to the latest editions.
4) Double Check Emails before opening them. Check the sender of every email you receive. If you do not know them, or the email looks suspicious, do not open it! Delete it! Do the suspicious emails include links to click or strange attachments? Do not click the links or open the attachments no matter how innocent they sound. If it claims to be from an official organization, call them and ask if the email is legit. Better safe than sorry!
5) Use strong passwords and/or multi-factor authentication. Good passwords are long. Good passwords also contain capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not use an easily accessable password that contains personal information like your birthday or the name of your pet, and do not use the same password for every website! This makes it harder for hackers to gain access to your personal information, especially when you use different passwords for every site. It might be a bit more to remember, but it diminishes the risk and the headache of sorting everything out after your information is stolen.
Many sites, such as banks, often will have multi-factor authentication available. With these systems, you not only need a password, but you also will need a special code that is often randomized on a dongle or smart phone app. These types of systems are more secure than just a typical password, as the extra step is incredibly difficult to hack into.
6) Use an Ad blocking Extension. Software such as Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin for your internet browsers are free, cross-platform browser extensions that filter unwanted content such as ads, pop-ups, rogue scripts, and even IP leaks. Using an ad blocking extension on your web browser will greatly lessen the impact of “Malvertising”, website ads that drop rogue programs onto your PC without your knowledge. While these programs might not block every ad you encounter, the chances of you running into something particularly malicious will be reduced dramatically.
7) Remove unsupported software. Many software programs, such as Flash or QuickTime, are no longer supported by their publishers, or are no longer supported by modern web browsers. This means that existing versions can have massive security flaws, despite their being many users who still have the software installed on their computers. It is recommended that users uninstall software that has been abandoned by their creators, especially if it is something that deals with content on the web.
At the same time, many newer pieces of software cannot run on older operating systems such as Windows 98, Windows ME, and even Windows XP. Keep your operating system up to date! When Microsoft stops supporting an old operating system, they stop all updates, which can lead to vulnerabilities being exploited.
8) Don’t talk to tech support scammers. If you’re on the internet and suddenly get a pop-up or email claiming your PC is infected with a virus, and that you need to call a listed number immediately, do not do it! A real security company wouldn’t sell their services from sketchy pop-ups or emails. These companies typically list a 1-800 number for you to call so they can try to lure you into spending potentially hundreds of dollars and giving them remote access to your PC. More likely than not, they will try to infect you or steal personal information during their remote access “work”.
9) Make sure you are on secure connection when purchasing products online or entering in personal information. You can tell you are on a secure website when the URL reads “https” and not just “http.” This is also referred to as HTTP over SSL which is encrypted. This protects against eavesdropping and tampering. Often, the address bar will change color or display a lock icon next to the URL you are visiting if you are connected through a secure HTTPS connection.
10) Use a firewall. Since Windows XP, every Microsoft operating system has come with a firewall. It is recommended you make sure this is always enabled. If you use a third-party firewall, it is also recommended you always keep it up and running. Firewalls use rules and examine network traffic as it passes in and out of your PC. If a connection does not follow the firewalls rules, it will be blocked. This also allows you to monitor activity on your network from intrusion attempts or if rogue software on your PC is trying to reach out to a hacker.
Even the most cautious of people can get infected; however, by following these tips your risk of getting infected or being unable to recover from an infection will go down dramatically. Remember to stay safe, exercise caution, scan regularly, keep everything up to date, and backup your data often.
Typosquatting is a type of internet scam that relies on end users making mistakes, such as spelling errors or entering the wrong domain name when entering a websites URL. It is also commonly known as URL Hijacking. There are many motivations for a hijacker to take the Typosquatting approach to deceiving unsuspecting victims:
1) To redirect web traffic to their own or a competitor’s product.
2) Installing malware to infect the user’s machine, typically with ad-hosting pieces of malware.
3) Freeze the web browser for a fake Tech Support scam, scaring the user into calling a fake tech support number claiming the user has a virus infection. These scams potentially cost the users hundreds of dollars.
4) To steal user information by running a phishing scheme to mimic legitimate website.
5) Making revenue from the user clicking on advertisements (either in plain site or disguised as legitimate search links) on the Typosquat website.
6) To blackmail or strong-arm payment from the company they're Typosquatting in order to force a purchase of the website from the Typosquatter.
A scammer who runs a Typosquat scam typically registers a website address with spelling close to the legitimate websites address. This is typically something simple like omitting a letter, adding a letter, or using a different Top Level Domain. For example if a user wants to go to our website, they may end up typing superaantispyware[dot]com with double a’s. This will end up showing a user a Typosquatting website such as this:
Another type of Typosquat scam would be due to the person improperly typing out the full URL, typing something like google [dot] om , rather than typing google [dot] com. In this instance, the person typing the .om domain would actually be viewing a page hosted on Oman's Top Level Domain, rather than the basic .com domain. In some instances, large corporations will buy up as many associated domains as they can in order to prevent this type of mistake (Google, for example, has variants of their site containing multiple o's and different Top Level Domains); however, not all companies have the foresight and/or money to do this.
It is easy to avoid falling prey to a Typosquatting scam. Here are a few easy things you can do to prevent this.
1) Never open links in emails from unexpected senders, and exercise caution when visiting sites you're not familiar with.
2) Bookmark your favorite websites so you can easily access them.
3) Use a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo when looking for a specific website if you are unsure about the spelling or if the business' website is the same as their name. Some car dealerships, for example, use dealer names or slogans as their website.
4) Double check the URL you are typing before loading the page
5) Make sure Real-Time Protection is turned on in SUPERAntiSpyware Professional
6) If you are starting a web-based business, consider buying multiple domains that are similar to your primary site to preemptively stop Typosquatters. Most domain registrars will offer bulk rates when you purchase more than one domain at a time.
While this type of attack is somewhat uncommon by today's standards, it still happens every once in a while. By practicing safe browsing habits, keeping your web browsers up-to-date, and running regular scans of your machine, you should not be impacted by most of these types of attacks.
Some of the earliest computer viruses and malware were created using macros in Microsoft Office documents. These pieces of malicious code would run once the document was opened, and the infection would happen without the user even being aware that their machine had been compromised. While these types of attacks had fallen out of favor over the years, they've come back in style and are more popular than ever before.
What exactly is a macro? While you've probably heard the term thrown around before, most people don't actually know what they are, or what they're capable of. In short, macros are little snippets of code that run through your office software. Many people use macros to speed up a repetitive processes, like formatting items. Unfortunately, the same type of code that is used to perform the mundane can also be used to perform the malicious.
Due to the ease of abuse, Microsoft removed the automatic enabling of macros many years ago. This is ultimately what lead to the majority of these types of attacks going by the wayside. Because there was no longer a way to abuse this on most machines, would-be attackers changed their methods to more traditional programs, which are far easier to detect with a normal malware scanner.
With the recent surge in ransomware, new methods of delivery were needed by would-be attackers. The anti-malware engines had been able to detect many variants, and it was only getting easier. This meant that stealth was needed. What better way to do that than to bring back a tried-and-true method in Office Macros. Few people expected it due to the fact that these infection types hadn't really been seen in years.
The basic attack is carried out like this:
1) An infected person sends you an email with the subject similar to "ATTN: Invoice Attached" that has a Word document attached.
2) The person downloads and opens the file, only to see a garbled mess of characters with a notice that says "Enable macro if the data encoding is incorrect" in big bold red letters at the top of the window
3) The unknowing victim enables macros, thereby initiating the malicious code
4) The code runs, sending out an email to your Outlook contacts (attempting to infect them), downloads whatever payload(s) it wants, then runs the ransomware (locking your files)
Because of the sharp increase in these types of attacks, Microsoft, SUPERAntiSpyware, and many other security vendors recommend that all users disable macros if they do not need to use them. While Macros should be disabled by default, it is worth double-checking your preferences in order to ensure that you are protected as best as possible.
For more information on how to disable macros in Office files, please visit this Microsoft Support article.
NOTE: This is a recommendation specifically for home users, if you are in a work environment please contact your IT department first before making any changes!
The internet today is just as dangerous of a place as it ever was. Sure, there are plenty of trusted websites you visit on a daily basis that pose little to no risk to your computer. The worst that happens to most people are unwanted tracking cookies from ad servers being placed on their machine, which is a small price to pay for free access to these sites, especially since they are so easy to remove with programs such as SUPERAntiSpyware®.
Today we’re going to talk about Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUPs for short.
What are PUPs?
PUPs live in the grey area of the software spectrum. Sometimes, they can provide a service that you want, such as coupons or the ability to download videos from popular sites like YouTube; however, sometimes the programs that we classify as PUPs can be the underlying cause of unwanted behavior, such as displaying ads, installing other pieces of software, or modifying your web browser’s homepage.
The most common sources of PUP “infections” are download websites that bundle other pieces of software in with the software that you are really trying to get. Unfortunately, many of the companies that make legitimate software don’t have a say in this bundling of software, as the download host is the one that is making a special installer that will offer up these other pieces of software before you can, or in order to, download and install the piece of software you want.
Many people just click the next button over and over again until they get the software they want installed. The downside to this method of installing software is that you leave yourself susceptible to PUPs on your machine, oftentimes not realizing what has been installed until it is too late. This is what many of these bundled installers are hoping for. They want you to blindly click through so they can get paid for the install of software, as these sites get paid for each piece of software they are able to distribute to end-users, even if they don’t necessarily want what they’re getting.
Once a computer has been “infected” by a PUP, the user may notice some major performance slowdowns or other erratic behaviors. The most common side-effects of PUPs include unwanted or unknown software popping up on your screen telling you there’s a problem, advertisements taking over your screen (either through the web browser directly, or through pop-ups outside the main browser window, system resources being hogged (slowing down the computer), toolbars being installed without your knowledge, and your browser’s homepage being redirected to an unknown/unwanted website.
How can I protect myself from PUPs?
The easiest way to avoid installing PUPs is to make sure that you’re downloading programs from trusted sources (always from the software publisher, if possible), you’re reading each of the screens on install wizards (removing any unwanted options from the installation), and do your research on whether or not the software that you’re looking for is safe and held in high regard by members of the community.
One of the biggest traps that are out there in the wild is the ubiquitous “Big Button”. You have probably seen these before. Say, for example, you’re looking for new media player software to play movies and music. In order to get that software, you go to a file hosting website, and you’re immediately greeted with three green buttons, a red button, and a yellow button, all with the word “DOWNLOAD” in bold capital letters across the center of it. Which one is the correct button to press?
Sometimes reading through the website isn’t enough to show you exactly which button is the real button, and which is an advertisement for another piece of software that’s been embedded near the correct button. Some websites even offer two different versions of the software: one that’s a clean installer, the other is an ad-supported/bundled installer.
This is why we recommend trying to download the software you want directly from the company who makes it. They want you to use their software, so they’re going to make it as easy for you as possible to get what you want. That means no bundled software and no ads that are disguised as download links.
Keep in mind that not all bundled software is bad. Many programs will offer downloads of legitimate products, such as Google Chrome or Dropbox. It’s a common occurrence in the software industry; however, if you’re not familiar with the name of the product a company wants you to install, you should always err on the side of caution and opt out of having that software installed.
How do I get rid of PUPs?
Most PUPs can be removed by going into your control panel and uninstalling them just as you would any other piece of software. In some cases, this unfortunately doesn’t always work. Programs such as SUPERAntiSpyware® try to remove these PUPs before scans, and most of the time we’re successful; however, new PUPs, new malware/spyware threats, and variants of existing threats, are created daily.
A couple easy ways to try to get rid of these PUPs before running more in-depth cleaning are to make sure you remove any unknown browser extensions in your web browser, and using the add/remove programs feature within Windows. Typically these PUPs will have their own uninstall files that can easily remove the threat once it is known. As always, make sure you exercise caution when removing programs, as not all “unknown” programs are malicious.
If you think that your machine might have PUPs that you can’t seem to get rid of, or any other malware infection for that matter, the best course of action is to first figure out exactly what you’re dealing with. If there is any distinguishing information you can see (like the program name), do a quick search to see how to remove the program. Most of the time, there will already be a removal guide available for the specific PUP or threat you’re dealing with.
Dealing with pesky PUPs can be time consuming, but remember, the time you take to fix the issue when you first notice it is time you save dealing with a computer that’s been slowed down by these unnecessary and unwanted programs.
Why are you calling <Software Name> a PUP? There’s nothing wrong with it!
There are many different criteria that go into classifying a piece of software a PUP. Keep in mind that the first letter of the acronym stands for POTENTIALLY. If a piece of software you want or use on a regular basis is being detected as a PUP, you’re more than welcome to keep using it or ignore the detection within SUPERAntiSpyware®.
We try to not remove anything from your machine unless we know that it has un-welcomed side effects. Some of the criteria we use for determining if a piece of software is a PUP is outlined below:
– The software is known to display advertisements. This covers everything from pop-ups, pup-unders, ad overlays, inserting in-text ads, and replacing existing advertising streams.
– Hijacking one or more installed web browser. This covers everything from redirecting the homepage (with or without permission), altering search results, inserting bookmarks, installing unwanted add-ons/extensions, and installing toolbars that bring value to the maker rather than the user.
– Bundling other software. This covers everything from including other software as a bundle (optional or otherwise) with a desired piece of software, being included in a bundle from another software or download site, making it difficult/impossible to opt-out of bundled software.
– The overall sentiment of the program is bad. This covers install and uninstall trends for particular pieces of software based on reviews and removal guides from trusted sources, using alarmist notifications to trick the user into purchasing, forcing a purchase to clean or fix issues with or without explaining what the issues are, and using misleading uninstallers to either force download more undesirable software or trick users into keeping the software.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it is definitely a good starting point as to why we consider a program as being undesirable. There are plenty of other software review websites out there that will probably echo our sentiments; however, as always, if something is working for you, feel free to ignore the detection.
When it comes to spreading malware and swindling money from the victims, cybercriminals have many ways to achieve their malicious goals. In recent years, cybercriminals have become increasingly inventive in terms of writing, designing, and distributing malware. In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed about ransomware and how it is being used by cybercriminals to extort money from its victims. In this blog post, we’ll discuss about a new type of malware called ‘Rogue security software’, which closely resembles ransomware, but follows a little different approach to attack its victims.