What is the Garbage Cleaner PUA?
Garbage Cleaner is an untrustworthy application and a new variant/updated version of 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 dubious methods used to proliferate Garbage Cleaner, it is also classified as a Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA).
In summary, Garbage Cleaner is a fake cleaner that cyber criminals use to distribute malware.
Dubious distribution techniques are common even to legitimate products, yet they are more often used to proliferate dubious and dangerous software. While PUAs usually seem legitimate and offer a wide variety of "useful" functionality, they rarely operate as advertised and, in most cases, do not work at all.
Fake anti-virus tools are a prime example of such PUAs. These bogus products require activation (i.e. purchase) to perform the features promised, however, even after activation, they remain nonfunctional. As mentioned, these unwanted apps can have dangerous capabilities.
Adware-types enable the placement of pop-ups, banners, coupons and other intrusive ads, typically on any visited website. Once clicked, these advertisements redirect to untrusted/malicious sites and some can even stealthily download/install software.
PUAs can also force-open various rogue and hazardous web pages. Other unwanted applications called browser hijackers alter browser settings and limit/deny access to the settings to promote fake search engines.
The promoted web searchers are rarely able to provide search results, and so they tend to redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Google, Bing, Yahoo and other legitimate search engines. Most PUAs (regardless of type/other capabilities) 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 sharing with and/or selling to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
In summary, the presence of data-tracking software on devices can result in system infections, serious privacy issues, financial loss 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.
Currently, 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 computers to a botnet, send malspam to other users, and install additional malware.
Research shows that cyber criminals distribute the aforementioned (and possibly other) password stealers to steal login credentials, not only for banking and other accounts of this type, but also for services like Apple, Google, Netflix, and Spotify.
|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), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Application.Agent.61), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GCleaner.A Potentially Unwanted), McAfee (GenericRXKE-KG!90D01324D134), Microsoft (PUA:Win32/Presenoker), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).|
|Detection Names (updated application)||Avast (Win32:DropperX-gen [Drp]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Lazy.150861), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GCleaner.A Potentially Unwanted), McAfee (GenericRXRZ-DD!D385BBA80023), Microsoft (PUA:Win32/Vigua.A), 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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
PCRepairClinic, PC Gold Optimizer and system repair, PC Accelerate, and RocketFixio are some examples of other unwanted apps similar to Garbage Cleaner. PUAs can have varied disguises and offer a broad range of "useful" features. The latter can range from system cleaning/optimizing to easy access tools to specific online content.
Despite how good this functionality might sound, it is seldom operational, since the only purpose of PUAs is to generate profit for the developers.
Rather than delivering any real value, this 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, however, this app is now available for download on various sites that offer cracked/pirated software and unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools. Note that it is illegal to use pirated software or activate licensed software with unofficial, third party activation tools.
PUAs are often downloaded/installed together with other products. This deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions is called "bundling". By rushing through download/installation of software (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps and sections, using "Quick/Express" settings, etc.) many users risk unintentionally allowing bundled content into their devices.
Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. When clicked, the ads can execute scripts to download/install these applications without users' permission. Some PUAs have "official" download web pages from which they can be downloaded.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
Research all software before download/installation. Use only official and verified download channels. Unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule), and other third party downloaders commonly offer harmful and bundled content, and are therefore untrusted and should be avoided.
When downloading/installing, read the terms, study all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, features, and so on. Intrusive advertisements typically seem legitimate, however, they can redirect to dubious and malicious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others).
If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately.
Appearance of Garbage Cleaner application (GIF):
Deceptive installer promoting Garbage Cleaner application:
Download page for Garbage Cleaner:
Screenshot of Garbage Cleaner unwanted application files:
Appearance the updated Garbage Cleaner app:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Garbage Cleaner?
- STEP 1. Uninstall deceptive applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove rogue extensions from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove potentially unwanted plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove rogue extensions from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
- STEP 6. Remove malicious plug-ins from Internet Explorer.
Removal of potentially unwanted applications:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 users:
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.
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
macOS (OSX) users:
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.
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:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the 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.
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 (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (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.
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, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....
In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge 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.
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 (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
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.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" 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".
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.
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.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Commonly, 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.
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