Avoid using fake Adobe Flash Player installers
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is "Latest version of Adobe Flash Player"?
Displayed by various scam websites, "Latest version of Adobe Flash Player" is a deceptive message employed to trick visitors into using a fake Adobe Flash Player installer, which actually installs a potentially unwanted application (PUA) such as, for example, a browser hijacker or adware-type app.
These fake installers are commonly designed to install multiple PUAs. In some cases, they install malicious software including ransomware, Trojans, or other high-risk malware. In any case, never download or install software or files from these websites. Browsers usually open websites of this type due to PUAs that are already installed.
When opened, websites of this type display a pop-up window claiming that Adobe Flash Player is out of date and encouraging visitors to update it. The other pop-up windows states that Adobe Flash Player is out of date, but also does not include the latest security updates and cannot be used (until visitors download and install an updated version).
Typically, these scam pages download a file called "AdobeFlashPlayerInstaller.dmg". This filename name might vary. Note that files downloaded from these pages do not install any new/legitimate versions of Adobe Flash Player - they simply install browser hijackers, adware or multiple PUAs.
Typically, browser hijackers promote fake search engines by changing certain setting and collecting browsing related data such as geolocations, entered search queries, addresses of visited websites, IP addresses and other details. In some cases, PUAs can access and record personal information.
Adware commonly tracks information and feeds users with intrusive ads, usually in the form of coupons, banners, pop-ups, surveys, and so on. People who click these ads are redirected to dubious web pages or cause download/installation of unwanted, potentially malicious software.
Fake Adobe Flash Player installers can cause installation of ransomware - software that encrypts data.
Typically, victims cannot use their files unless they pay a ransom to cyber criminals. Furthermore, rogue installers can infect systems with Trojans - these programs often install other malware, thereby causing chain infections. In summary, no software should be downloaded or installed through these scam websites.
|Name||Latest version of Adobe Flash Player pop-up|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus.|
|Fake Claim||Websites of this type claim that Adobe Flash Player is out of date.|
|Promoted Unwanted Applications||Browser hijackers, adware, Trojans, ransomware and other unwanted, potentially malicious software.|
|Symptoms||Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.|
|Damage||Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites, loss of private information.|
|Malware Removal (Mac)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Other examples of similar pages include streamoverlyquickprogram[.]com, reliableultimatesafevideoplayers[.]info and biggerupdateforvideos[.]best. All suggest that there is a new version of Adobe Flash Player available and encourage visitors to download it from them.
In fact, none download a legitimate Adobe Flash Player installer - they download a fake installer that installs unwanted, potentially malicious software. As mentioned, these scam websites are usually opened by PUAs that are installed on the browser and/or operating system.
How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?
In most cases PUAs are downloaded and installed when people intentionally (or unintentionally) click deceptive advertisements or download/install programs without changing settings that are available in the set-ups. Typically, developers distribute PUAs using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling".
I.e., they include PUAs into various download/installation set-ups and present them as additional offers. Typically, these offers can be found in "Advanced", "Custom", and other settings of the set-ups. Unfortunately, many people leave these unchanged, thereby agreeing by default with offers to download or install additional (unwanted) applications.
Clicking ads can cause download/installation of PUAs, since some ads execute rogue scripts (note that they cannot do this without being clicked).
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications
Software should be downloaded from official websites and using direct download links. Third party downloaders, installers, unofficial websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), and other such tools/channels should not be trusted - they are often monetized by promoting various unwanted applications.
Furthermore, unwanted downloads and installations can be prevented by declining offers to download or install unwanted apps (these are often listed in "Custom", "Advanced" and other settings included in the set-ups). Do not click intrusive ads, especially if shown on dubious web pages - they can redirect people to untrusted web pages or download/install unwanted software.
If the browser opens dubious web pages or displays unwanted ads, we recommend that you remove all suspicious, unwanted extensions, plug-ins and add-ons immediately. Also remove programs of this kind from the operating system. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.
Text in the initial pop-up window, which appears on these scam websites:
Update to the latest version of Flash Player. Your current Adobe Flash Player version is out of date.
Screenshot of pop-up windows that appear after closing the first pop-up:
Text in these pop-ups:
Latest version of Flash Player is required to encode and/or decode (Play) audio files in high quality. - Click here to update for latest version.
Adobe Flash Player
Install the latest update
"Adobe Flash Player" is an essential plugin for your browser that allows you to view everything from video to games and animation on the web. The version of “Adobe Flash Player" on your system does not include the latest security updates and has been blocked.
To continue using “Adobe Flash Player", download an updated version.
Download Flash... Update
Flash Player Update
Install latest version of Adobe Flash Player in order to continue watching.
Screenshot of a pop-up which appears next:
Text in this pop-up:
“Adobe Flash Player” is out-of-date
The version of this plug-in on your computer doesn't include the latest security updates. Flash cannot be used until you download an update from Adobe.Update Download Flash...
Screenshot of pop-up with instructions:
Text in this pop-up:
Go to the ‘Downloads’
Open your downloads list by
clicking on the top right corner
Open the file
Locate and double-click the file
starting with ‘Flash Player’.
Run the application
Confirm the installation by clicking
Continue and Install
Type your password.
Click the Arrow Icon
Open the file
Right click on Installer icon and Open
Right click on Installer icon and Open
Confirm the installation by clicking
Continue and Install buttons. Type your password.
Appearance of "Latest version of Adobe Flash Player" scam (GIF):
Another variant of "Latest version of Adobe Flash Player" scam (GIF):
One of these scam pages redirects visitors to other website of this type (GIF):
Yet another version of "Latest Version Of Adobe Flash Player" pop-up scam:
Screenshot of a fake Adobe Flash Player installer promoted using this scam:
Yet another variant of this pop-up scam:
Examples of domains displaying such scam messages:
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- What is Latest version of Adobe Flash Player pop-up?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
How to identify a pop-up scam?
Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.
While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.
Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:
- Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
- Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
- Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
- Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
- Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.
Example of a pop-up scam:
How do pop-up scams work?
Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.
Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.
How to remove fake pop-ups?
In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.
In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.
How to prevent fake pop-ups?
To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.
To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS.
What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.
- If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
- If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
- If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
- Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.
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