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CloudFront Virus

Also Known As: CloudFront malware
Type: Adware
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

CloudFront removal instructions

What is CloudFront?

CloudFront is a legitimate service provided by Amazon allowing developers to improve users' web browsing experience by optimizing distribution of certain web content (read more here). Cyber criminals abuse this service to promote various web scam models and malicious programs (e.g., fake Adobe Flash Player updater). If you continually encounter pop-ups that open with the cloudfront.net URL, your computer is probably infected with a type of malware (most likely adware or a browser hijacker).

CloudFront adware

As mentioned above, CloudFront service is used by cyber criminals who typically promote various websites that display fake errors. This scam model is very simple - users visit a deceptive website and encounter a fake error message, often stating that the system is damaged (e.g., infected, missing files, or similar). Users are then encouraged to contact "certified technicians" (via telephone numbers provided) to resolve these issues. Be aware, however, that these pop-up errors are false - rather than calling technical support, users will be contacting cyber criminals who claim to be the technicians. Users are then encouraged to pay certain fees in exchange for 'help' in removing infections or returning their systems to normal. In some cases, users are asked to grant remote access to their computers. Once connected, criminals stealthily install malware and change system settings, after which they claim to 'detect' additional issues and offer further help for an extra fee. There is also a high probability that these people will demand answers to various "Yes/No" questions. They do this to record positive responses and use them as 'proof' that victims have agreed to submit various payments (e.g., online purchases, credit card charges, or similar). In addition, these fake-error-displaying websites are designed to appear legitimate (for instance, they contain Apple/Microsoft logos, etc.) and so they might seem believable, however, operating system developers do not use websites to inform users of corrupted systems, infections, and so on. Criminals also employ CloudFront to promote websites claiming that the system is running outdated software. The most common is Adobe Flash Player. In fact, rather than downloading Flash Player updater, users will download high-risk malware (e.g., password stealers, keyloggers, etc.) If you are continually redirected with the cloudfront.net URL, immediately eliminate all dubious programs/browser plug-ins and scan the entire system with a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite.

Threat Summary:
Name CloudFront malware
Threat Type Adware, Unwanted ads, Pop-up Virus
Symptoms Seeing advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing. Intrusive pop-up ads. Decreased Internet browsing speed.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake flash player installers.
Damage Decreased computer performance, browser tracking - privacy issues, possible additional malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Unwanted pop-ups are often delivered by adware/browser hijackers. Adware is a form of software that delivers various intrusive advertisements (coupons, banners, pop-ups, etc.) To achieve this, developers employ various tools (e.g., "virtual layers") that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site. Therefore, displayed ads conceal underlying website content, thereby significantly diminishing users' Internet browsing experience. Furthermore, intrusive ads typically redirect to malicious websites and even run scripts that stealthily download and install malware/PUPs. Therefore, even a single click can result in high-risk computer infections. Browser hijackers modify web browser options without users' consent. They assign browser settings (e.g., new tab URL, default search engine, homepage, etc.) to the URLs of malicious websites. As a result, users continually encounter unwanted redirects to these dubious sites. In addition, adware and browser hijackers gather various sensitive information (e.g., IP addresses, geographic locations, Internet service providers [ISPs], web URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries, keystrokes, etc.) that includes personal details. Developers sell this information to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who misuse private data to generate revenue. Therefore, the presence of data-tracking apps can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft.

Adware-type and browser-hijacking potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) often claim to provide various "useful features" (e.g., file conversion, system optimization, download performance increases, anti-virus software, and so on), however, rather than enabling any of the features promised, PUPs pose a direct threat to your privacy and Internet browsing safety. These programs are designed only to generate revenue for the developers.

How did potentially unwanted programs install on my computer?

To proliferate adware and browser hijackers, developers often use the aforementioned intrusive advertisements and, especially, a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". Therefore, due to lack of knowledge and careless behavior by many users, PUPs infiltrate systems without permission. "Bundling" is stealth installation of third party applications together with regular software/apps. Developers do not disclose these installations properly - they conceal "bundled" programs within various sections (e.g., "Custom/Advanced" settings) of the download or installation processes. Furthermore, many users rush these procedures and skip steps. In addition, they click suspicious links/ads without understanding the possible consequences. In doing so, they expose their systems to risk of various infections and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

This situation can be prevented by paying close attention when downloading/installing software and browsing the Internet in general. Firstly, select "Custom/Advanced" settings and carefully analyze each window of the download/installation processes. Decline offers to download/install additional applications and opt-out of those already included. Secondly, download your applications from official sources only and, preferably, using a direct download link. Third party downloaders/installers are monetized by promoting rogue apps (the "bundling" method) and, therefore, should never be used. Intrusive ads are designed to look legitimate. Once clicked, however, they redirect to gambling, survey, pornography, and other dubious websites. If you encounter such ads, immediately remove all dubious applications and browser plug-ins. The key to computer safety is caution.

Example of a fake error scam promoted via "CloudFront" service (GIF):

CloudFront scam gif

Example of CloudFront service abuse to promote a fake SevenZip installation setup:

CloudFront service abused in to promote a fake SevenZip installation setup

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Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted programs:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

CloudFront adware uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted program, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing CloudFront ads from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing CloudFront ads from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the cloudfront malware, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing CloudFront  ads from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, select these entries and click the trash can icon.

Removing CloudFront ads from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the cloudfront malware, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing CloudFront ads from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click "Extensions", in the opened window, remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing CloudFront ads from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with cloudfront malware removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the cloudfront malware, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove cloudfront malware from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
CloudFront malware QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of CloudFront malware on your mobile device.
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