How to uninstall the Garbage Cleaner potentially unwanted application?

Also Known As: Garbage Cleaner potentially unwanted application
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Garbage Cleaner removal instructions

What is the Garbage Cleaner PUA?

Garbage Cleaner is an untrustworthy application, it is a new variant/updated version of the G-Cleaner. It is endorsed as a tool for cleaning operating systems (i.e. removing junk files and other unnecessary content). However, due to the questionable methods used to distribute Garbage Cleaner, it is classified as a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application). The biggest problem with Garbage Cleaner is that it is a fake cleaner that cyber criminals use to distribute malware.

Garbage Cleaner unwanted application

Dubious distribution techniques are not uncommon for legitimate products, yet they are more commonly used to proliferate unreliable and dangerous software. While PUAs usually appear legitimate and offer a wide variety of "useful" functionalities, they rarely operate as advertised and in most cases - they do not work at all. Fake anti-virus tools are a prime example of such PUAs; these illegitimate products require activation (i.e. purchase) to perform the promised features, however even after activation - they remain nonfunctional. As mentioned in the introduction, unwanted apps can have dangerous abilities. Adware-types enable the placement of pop-ups, banners, coupons and other intrusive ads - typically, on any visited website. Once clicked on, these advertisements redirect to untrustworthy/malicious sites and some can even stealthily download/install software. PUAs can also force-open various rogue and hazardous webpages.

Another type of unwanted applications called browser hijackers - alter browser settings and limit/deny access to them - in order to promote fake search engines. The promoted web searchers are rarely able to provide search results, so they tend to redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Google, Bing, Yahoo and other legitimate search engines. What is more, most PUAs (regardless of type / other abilities) can track data. They monitor browsing activity (visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, etc.) and gather personal information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This sensitive data is then monetized by being shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, presence of data-tracking software on devices can result in system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. To protect device integrity and user privacy, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.

It is known that earlier Garbage Cleaner was used to distribute AZORult password stealer, PredatorTheThieff and some cryptocurrency miners. However, at the current moment this fake software is used to distribute other malware, such as DJVU ransomware, SmokeLoader, Redline, Amadey, FickerStealer, Raccoon Stealer - malware that is designed to encrypts files, steal sensitive information, add infected computer to a botnet, send malspam to other users and/or install additional malware. Research shows that cyber criminals distribute the aforementioned (and possibly other) password stealers to steal login credentials not only for baking and other accounts of this type, but also for services like Apple, Google, Netflix, Spotify.

Threat Summary:
Name Garbage Cleaner potentially unwanted application
Threat Type PUP (potentially unwanted program), PUA (potentially unwanted application)
Supposed Functionality Operating system cleaning
Detection Names (installer) DrWeb (Trojan.Zadved.1661), McAfee (Artemis!48141C89E83B), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of Win32/TrojanDropper.Agent.SLC), Kaspersky (Trojan.Win32.Ekstak.ahnuf), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (application) Avast (Win32:Trojan-gen), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Application.Agent.61), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GCleaner.A Potentially Unwante), McAfee (GenericRXKE-KG!90D01324D134), Microsoft (PUA:Win32/Presenoker), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms A program that you do not recall installing suddenly appeared on your computer. A new application is performing computer scans and displays warning messages about 'found issues'. Asks for payment to eliminate the supposedly found errors.
Distribution Methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.
Damage Monetary loss (unnecessary purchase of fake software), unwanted warning pop-ups, slow computer performance.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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PCRepairClinicPC Gold Optimizer and system repairPC AccelerateRocketFixio - are some examples of other unwanted apps akin to Garbage Cleaner. PUAs can have varied disguises and offer a broad range of "handy" features. The latter can range from system cleaning/optimizing to easy access tools to specific online content. However, despite how good these functionalities may sound - they are seldom operational. Functionality and user safety are irrelevant, since the only purpose of PUAs is to generate profit for the developers. Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, unwanted software can run intrusive advertisement campaigns, cause redirects, hijack browsers and collect private data.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Research shows that Garbage Cleaner is no longer available for download on its "official" website. Now this app is available for download on various sites that offer cracked/pirated software and unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools. It is important to mention that it is not legal neither to use pirated software or activate licensed software with unofficial, third party activation tools.

Also, it is common for PUAs to be distributed via download/installation setups of other programs. This false marketing tactic of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive ads proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the advertisements can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user consent. Select PUAs have "official" promotional sites, from which they can be downloaded.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research software prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Only official and trustworthy download channels must be used. Since dubious sources, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders - can offer harmful and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is important to read terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, features and other additions. Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and innocuous, however they redirect to highly questionable webpages (e.g. gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.). In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it immediately. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Appearance of Garbage Cleaner application (GIF):

Appearance of Garbage Cleaner PUA (GIF)

Deceptive installer promoting Garbage Cleaner application:

Garbage Cleaner PUA installation setup

Download page for Garbage Cleaner:

garbage cleaner unwanted application download website

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Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

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.

Garbage Cleaner adware uninstall via Control Panel

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

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application, 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:

At time of research, Garbage Cleaner did not install any unwanted browser extensions, however, some unwanted applications can be installed together with adware and browser hijackers. If you experience unwanted ads or redirects when browsing the internet, continue with the removal guide below.

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

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions 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 and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the garbage cleaner potentially unwanted application, 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 plugins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions 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 on "Extensions", in the opened window remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with garbage cleaner potentially unwanted application 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 garbage cleaner potentially unwanted application, 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.

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions 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 rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the garbage cleaner potentially unwanted application, 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

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 garbage cleaner potentially unwanted application from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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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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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Garbage Cleaner potentially unwanted application QR code
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