Pony Virus

Also Known As: Pony malware
Type: Other
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

Pony virus removal guide

What is Pony?

Pony is malware that steals personal data. Research shows that cyber criminals spread this malware in various ways: spam emails, fake Adobe Flash Player updates, scams such as The HoeflerText Font Wasn't Found, etc. The presence of adware-type applications that generate pop-up ads can also lead to Pony infections.

Pony malware

Pony is a virus designed to collect users' logins/passwords and send them to a remote server controlled by cyber criminals. Research shows that this malware is capable of cracking passwords saved in over one hundred applications including Internet browsers, FTPs, VPNs, and many others. The collected data might be sensitive. For example, criminals can gain access to your bank accounts. Therefore, the presence of Pony malware can lead to significant financial losses. In addition, Pony might connect a victim's PC to a botnet, which is used to proliferate this malware to other devices. If you suspect that your system is infected or you have recently opened/downloaded dubious files/applications, you should immediately scan the system with a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite and eliminate all detected threats.

As mentioned above, Pony might have been distributed using intrusive pop-up ads or delivered by potentially unwanted adware-type programs (PUPs). These programs deliver advertisements such as coupons, banners, and so on. The ads can lead to malicious websites and execute scripts that download and install malware. Therefore, even a single click can result in high-risk computer infections. Furthermore, these applications significantly diminish the browsing experience and are displayed using tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site. Therefore, they are likely to conceal website content. Another important issue is information tracking. As with Pony, adware can also gather information that includes personal details, however, these applications are typically not so advanced - they simply record users' Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, websites visited, pages viewed, search queries, and so on. PUP developers share the collected data with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) to generate revenue. Therefore, having adware-type apps installed on your computer can also lead to privacy issues. We strongly recommend that you uninstall these programs immediately.

Pony shares similarities with FormBook, Adwind, and dozens of other viruses. Following infiltration, the malware starts gathering sensitive information and sending it to the developers/distributors (cyber criminals). These people then attempt to misuse received data in any possible way to generate as much revenue as possible. Some viruses are also used to further infect the system. Trojans are known for distributing file-encrypting viruses (a.k.a. ransomware). In the case of these infections, users' privacy and stored data is at risk. Ransomware-type viruses encrypt files using various mathematical algorithms. Therefore, in most cases, restoring them without developers' help (not recommended) is impossible. In summary, chain computer infections can cause significant issues.

How did Pony infect my computer?

As mentioned above, Pony is promoted in various ways including spam emails containing malicious attachments (e.g., JavaScript files, MS Office documents, PDF files, etc.) By opening these attachments, users run scripts that download and install malware. Fake Flash Player updates and scam errors download and install malware rather than promoted updates/products. Adware-type applications are typically distributed using "bundling" and intrusive advertising. "Bundling" is stealth installation of PUPs together with regular apps. Developers hide "bundled" programs within "Custom/Advanced" settings or other sections of the download/installation processes. Many users rush and skip these procedure steps and are also likely to click advertisements. This behavior often leads to inadvertent installation of potentially unwanted programs.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing software. Think twice before opening files attached to emails. If messages are sent from suspicious/unrecognizable email addresses, delete them immediately and certainly do not open any attachments. Furthermore, keep installed applications up-to-date and use a legitimate anti-virus software, however, since criminals proliferate malware via fake updaters, we recommend that you use implemented update functions or tools provided by the official developer only. It is also very important to carefully analyze each window of the download/installation dialogs and opt-out of all additionally-included programs. Third party downloaders/installers are often monetized using the "bundling" method. Therefore, these tools should not be used. Download your apps from official sources only, using direct download links. Intrusive advertisements usually seem legitimate, but when clicked redirect to dubious sites (gambling, adult dating, pornography, etc.) If you experience these redirects, immediately remove all dubious applications and browser plug-ins. Having a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount. The key to computer safety is caution. If you believe that your computer is infected with Pony, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Another spam email distributing Pony virus:

Pony virus distributing spam email

Malicious .doc file distributing Pony virus:

Pony virus distributing doc file

Sample of Pony malware in Task Manager:

Pony virus in Task Manager

Instant automatic removal of Pony malware: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Pony malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task, usually it's better to let antivirus or anti-malware programs do it automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using  Spyhunter for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here's an example of a suspicious program running on user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example using task manager and identified a program that looks suspicious you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1 Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

 

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down it full path and name. Note that some malware hides their process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage it's very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate he suspicious program you want to remove right click your mouse over it's name and choose "Delete"

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware won't run automatically on the next system startup) you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the file of the malware be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should help remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills, it's recommended to leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it's better to avoid getting infected that try to remove malware afterwards. To keep your computer safe be sure to install latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections we recommend scanning it with Spyhunter for Windows.