Do not trust updates promoted on playlatestheavilyfreeware.icu

Also Known As: playlatestheavilyfreeware.icu pop-up
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu?

Playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu is a deceptive scam site, pushing fake Flash Player updaters. The scam directly or indirectly claims that visitors' Flash Player is outdated and recommends to update it immediately.

Illegitimate software updaters are often used to infiltrate untrustworthy content into devices, for example - adware, browser hijackers or other PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). They can also infect systems with malware (e.g. ransomware, trojans, etc.).

At the time of research, the fake updaters promoted by playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu - have been bundled with SearchMine browser hijacker and MediaDownloader adware, however other untrustworthy/malicious software may be spread via this scam as well.

Typically, deceptive webpages are entered via redirects caused by intrusive adverts or by PUAs, already installed onto the system.

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam

There are several variants of the scam run by playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu. When the website is accessed, visitors are presented with one or several pop-up windows. The text presented in them is thematically identical. They state that the users' Flash Players are or might be outdated, and offer illegitimate updates.

The large pop-up in the background elaborates more on the importance of Flash. It states that Flash Player is an essential browser plug-in, that enables users to view/interact with media online (e.g. audio, video, animation and games). It also supports data formats like AMF, SWF, XML, JSON, as well as multimedia ones - .MP3, .FLV, .JPEG, .GIF, .PNG and .RTMP.

Other Flash Player features include accelerated graphics rendering, multi-thread video decoding and webcam support. Since the version on users' systems might be lacking the newest security, it has supposedly been blocked. Hence, the latest updates must be installed to continue using Flash.

All of the pop-ups have "Download/Install/Update" buttons, which initiate the download of the fake updates and provide installation instructions. It must be emphasized, trusting playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu will not update Flash Player, instead users will inadvertently allow dubious and/or malicious content onto their devices.

Due to the risks posed by third party updaters, it is strongly advised to only use tools/functions provided by legitimate developers to update software.

Aside from deceptive/scam webpages, PUAs can force-open untrustworthy, rogue, compromised and malicious sites as well. However, these applications can have other/additional heinous abilities.

Adware-types can deliver intrusive advertisements (e.g. pop-ups, banners, surveys, etc.), which seriously affect the browsing experience - by limiting browsing speed and overlaying pages. What is more, when these ads are clicked, they redirect to hazardous websites and can stealthily download/install content (e.g. PUAs).

Another type of unwanted app called browser hijacker - can modify browsers and restrict/deny access to their settings. It is not uncommon for all types of PUAs (regardless of their specific abilities) to track data. They can record browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and gather users' personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and real-life details).

This sensitive data can then be shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals), intent on misusing it for profit.

To summarize, PUAs can cause various infiltrations and infections, lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. To protect device integrity and user safety - all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name playlatestheavilyfreeware.icu pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus
Fake Claim Scam claims visitors' Flash Player might be outdated.
Detection Names (playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu)
Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address (playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu)
Detection Names (MediaDownloader.dmg - installer) Avast (MacOS:Bundlore-EA [Adw]), DrWeb (Adware.Mac.Bundlore.775), Ikarus (Trojan.MAC.Generic), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Bnodlero.a), Full List (Virus Total)
Promoted Unwanted Application SearchMine and MediaDownloader (possibly other untrustworthy applications as well)
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)

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Worldofcontenting.infotheultimatesafevideoplayers.infostreamoverlyquickprogram.com are examples of scam sites practically identical to playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu. They are designed to push users into performing specific actions, in order to generate revenue for the scammers.

This goal is achieved by tricked users into: downloading/installing and/or purchasing untrustworthy or malicious software, revealing personal information (e.g. banking account or credit card details, etc.), making monetary transactions (e.g. fake fees, payments for nonexistent "services" rendered, etc.), calling expensive numbers and so on.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs can be downloaded/installed together with other products. "Bundling" is the term used to define this false marketing method of pre-packing regular content with unwanted or malicious software. Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. skimmed or ignored terms, used pre-set options, etc.) - endanger devices with potential infiltrations and infections.

Some PUAs have "official" promotional pages, from which they can be downloaded. Intrusive adverts proliferate these apps as well. Once clicked on, they can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without user consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is important to research products, prior to download/installation. Only official and verified download channels should be used. It is ill-advised to use free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders - as they are deemed to be untrustworthy and can offer similarly suspect content.

When downloading/installing, it is recommended to read terms, study all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, functions and so on. Intrusive ads usually look legitimate and ordinary, however they redirect to questionable webpages (e.g. pornography, adult-dating, gambling, etc.).

Should users encounter such advertisements/redirects, they are to check the system and remove all dubious applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in the initially displayed pop-up window:

Softare Update

Flash Player Update
Download new version
Update now

Flash Player is an essential plugin for your browser that allows you to view everything from video to games and animation on the web.

Flash Player supports several data formats including AMF, SWF, XML and JSON. The multimedia formats which are supported by Flash Player include .MP3, .FLV, .JPEG, .GIF, .PNG and .RTMP.
Other support features include accelerated graphics rendering, multi-thread video decoding and webcam support.

Later Install

Screenshot of the fake Flash player update installation instructions:

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam fake updates install instructions

Text presented in this page:

When the file done downloading,
you'll see it at the bottom of your
Chrome window.
Open the file
Click the file starting with ‘Flash Player’.
Run the application
Confirm the installation by clicking
Continue and Install
Type your password.

Appearance of playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam (GIF):

Appearance of playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam (GIF)

Appearance of another variant of playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam (GIF):

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam another variant gif

Screenshot of the fake Flash update installation setup ("MediaDownloader.dmg"):

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam fake updates installer (MediaDownloader.dmg)

Screenshot of the fake Flash update installation setup ("AdobeFlashPlayer.dmg"):

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam fake updates installer (AdobeFlashPlayer.dmg)

Screenshot of one of the unwanted applications promoted through playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam ("MediaDownloader"):

playlatestheavilyfreeware[.]icu scam one of the promoted apps (MediaDownloader)

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Quick menu:

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:

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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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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About PCrisk

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

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