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How to recognize scams like update-for-today.com?

Also Known As: update-for-today.com pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What kind of page is update-for-today[.]com?

Update-for-today[.]com is a deceptive website promoting various pop-up scams. At the time of research, this site ran a scheme targeting Android device users. The scam implies that the device's cleaning/protection software (essentially, the anti-virus tool) is outdated.

Schemes of this type are commonly used to promote a variety of untrusted software, including fake anti-viruses, adware, browser hijackers, and other Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs). In some cases, these scams even proliferate Trojans, ransomware, and other malware.

update-for-today[.]com scam website

Update-for-today[.]com pop-up scam in detail

Access to deceptive sites like this one is usually gained via mistyped URLs, redirects caused by intrusive ads or by PUAs already installed on the system.

The scam promoted on update-for-today[.]com displays two pop-up windows. The pop-up at the top of the page informs visitors that they need to update their "Android Cleaner". Doing so will supposedly improve the mobile phone's performance and battery life.

The pop-up window in the middle of the page states that there is a recommended update for users' Samsung devices. The fake alert claims that, due to the latest issues with visitors' phones (specified as "Samsung SM-A307FN"), new "Android Cleaner" updates have been released.

According to the pop-up, installing these updates will enable users to detect all viruses and potential threats present in the systems, remove junk files and, as a result, improve device performance. This pop-up also contains a countdown clock intended to alarm visitors and trick them into taking immediate action.

All of the information provided by update-for-today[.]com is false. Furthermore, no website can actually detect threats/issues present on visitors' devices. Therefore, any that make these claims are scams and cannot be trusted.

Schemes of this kind are designed to promote unwanted and malicious software. By trusting such scams, users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

More details about PUAs

PUAs typically appear legitimate and offer various "useful" functionalities, however, the promised functions are rarely operational. Fake anti-virus tools are prime examples of this type of PUA. Fraudulent anti-viruses need to be activated (i.e., purchased) to perform the promised features, yet following activation, they remain nonoperational.

Unwanted applications can also have dangerous functionalities. They can force-open dubious, misleading, deceptive/scam, and malicious web pages (including update-for-today[.]com). Adware-types run intrusive advertisement campaigns (i.e., deliver various ads).

Intrusive ads diminish the browsing experience, promote untrustworthy/malicious sites, and some can even be triggered (by being clicked) to stealthily download/install software.

Other PUAs called browser hijackers operate by making modifications to browser settings and restricting/denying access to them to promote fake search engines. The promoted web searchers are seldom able to provide search results, so they redirect to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other legitimate search engines.

Most PUAs (regardless of type) can track data. Information of interest includes browsing and search engine histories, IP addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details. The gathered data is then monetized by sharing with third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

Therefore, eliminate all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name update-for-today.com pop-up
Threat Type Android malware, malicious application, unwanted application.
Detection Names Cyan (Malicious), ESET (Malware), Fortinet (Phishing), Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address 45.32.88.145
Symptoms The device is running slow, system settings are modified without user's permission, questionable applications appear, data and battery usage is increased significantly, browsers redirect to questionable websites, intrusive advertisements are delivered.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, deceptive applications, scam websites.
Damage Stolen personal information (private messages, logins/passwords, etc.), decreased device performance, battery is drained quickly, decreased Internet speed, huge data losses, monetary losses, stolen identity (malicious apps might abuse communication apps).
Malware Removal (Android) To eliminate malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your Android device with legitimate anti-malware software. We recommend Avast, Bitdefender, ESET or Malwarebytes.

Similarities with other scam of this type

"Spin The Wheel", "Win The New iPhone 12", "Pornographic Alert", and "Required video codec is not installed on your computer" are other examples of online scams. The Internet is rife with schemes, and they use varied techniques to gain and abuse users' trust.

Popular scam models are: alerts about outdated or missing essential software, warnings concerning (potential) system infections, fake prize giveaways and raffles, "unbelievable" deals and offers, etc. Regardless of what online schemes claim, request, or demand, the end-goal is the same: to generate revenue for the scammers/cyber criminals behind them.

Due to the relative prevalence of deceptive/scam pages, you should exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications infiltrate my device?

PUAs are distributed via download/installation set-ups of other products. This deceptive marketing tactic of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions is called "bundling".

Rushing download/installation processes (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps and settings, etc.) increases the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system.

Some PUAs have "official" download sites. Intrusive advertisements proliferate these applications as well. Once clicked, they can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without users' consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

You are advised to research all software before download/installation or purchase. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources, since dubious channels such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders commonly offer deceptive or bundled content.

When downloading/installing, read the terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of supplementary apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive ads may seem normal and harmless, however, they can redirect to various dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others).

If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove any suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately.

Text displayed in the scam promoted by update-for-today[.]com website:

Pop-up at the top of the page:

 

Update your Android Cleaner right now to improve performance of your phone and improve battery life.

 

[CANCEL] [UPDATE!]

 

----------------------------------

 

Pop-up in the middle of the page:

 

It is recommended that you update the Cleaner for your Samsung!
Due to the latest problems with Samsung SM-A307FN, we have released an update of the Android Cleaner which will find all viruses and potential threats and will also clean junk files and improve battery life.

 

Update right now to boost your Samsung SM-A307FN and improve performance of your phone and improve battery life.

 

Install the recommended app for FREE to clean and strengthen your Samsung immediately!

 

3 minutes 10 seconds

 

Install Cancel

Quick menu:

Delete browsing history from the Chrome web browser:

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened drop-down menu.

Deleting web browsing history from Chrome in Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Clear browsing data", select "ADVANCED" tab, choose the time range and data types you want to delete and tap "Clear data".

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Disable browser notifications in the Chrome web browser:

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "Settings" in the opened drop-down menu.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Site settings" option and tap it. Scroll down until you see "Notifications" option and tap it.

Disabling browser notifications in the Chrome browser in Android operating system (step 3)

Find the websites that deliver browser notifications, tap on them and click "Clear & reset". This will remove permissions granted for these websites to deliver notifications, however, when you revisit the same site, it may ask for a permission again.

You can choose whether to give these permissions or not (if you choose to decline, the website will go to "Blocked" section and will no longer ask you for the permission).

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Reset the Chrome web browser:

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Chrome" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Chrome browser to default in Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "MANAGE STORAGE", then "CLEAR ALL DATA" and confirm the action by taping "OK". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. This means that all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites.

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Delete browsing history from the Firefox web browser:

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 1)

Tap the "Menu" button (three dots on the right-upper corner of the screen) and select "History" in the opened drop-down menu.

Delete browsing history from the Firefox in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Clear private data" and tap it. Select data types you want to remove and tap "CLEAR DATA".

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser:

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Visit the website that is delivering browser notifications, tap the icon displayed on the left of URL bar (the icon will not necessarily be a "Lock") and select "Edit Site Settings".

Disable browser notifications in the Firefox web browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

In the opened pop-up opt-in the "Notifications" option and tap "CLEAR".

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Reset the Firefox web browser:

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you find "Firefox" application, select it and tap "Storage" option.

Resetting Firefox browser in the Android operating system (step 3)

Tap "CLEAR DATA" and confirm the action by taping "DELETE". Note that resetting the browser will eliminate all data stored within. This means that all saved logins/passwords, browsing history, non-default settings and other data will be deleted. You will also have to re-login into all websites.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Uninstall potentially unwanted and/or malicious applications:

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Apps" and tap it.

Removing unwanted/malicious applications from the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see a potentially unwanted and/or malicious application, select it and tap "Uninstall". If, for some reason, you are unable to remove the selected app (e.g., you are prompted with an error message), you should try using "Safe Mode".

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Boot the Android device in "Safe Mode":

The "Safe Mode" in Android operating system temporarily disables all third-party applications from running. Using this mode is a good way to diagnose and solve various issues (e.g., remove malicious applications that prevent users you from doing so when the device is running "normally").

Booting Android device in Safe Mode

Push the "Power" button and hold it until you see the "Power off" screen. Tap the "Power off" icon and hold it. After a few seconds the "Safe Mode" option will appear and you will be able run it by restarting the device.

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Check the battery usage of various applications:

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Device maintenance" and tap it.

Checking the battery usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Battery" and check the usage of each application. Legitimate/genuine applications are designed to use as little energy as possible in order to provide the best user experience and to save power. Therefore, high battery usage may indicate that the application is malicious.

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Check the data usage of various applications:

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Connections" and tap it.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Data usage" and select this option. As with battery, legitimate/genuine applications are designed to minimize data usage as much as possible. This means that significant data usage may indicate the presence of malicious applications. Note that some malicious applications might be designed to operate when the device is connected to wireless networks only.

For this reason, you should check both Mobile and Wi-Fi data usage.

Checking data usage of various applications in the Android operating system (step 3)

If you find an application that uses a lot of data even though you never use it, we strongly advise you to uninstall it as soon as possible.

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Install the latest software updates:

Keeping the software up-to-date is a good practice for device safety. The device manufacturers are continually releasing various security patches and Android updates to fix errors and bugs that can be abused by cyber criminals. An outdated system is much more vulnerable, and therefore you should always be sure that your device software is up-to-date.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Software update" and tap it.

Installing software updates in the Android operating system (step 2)

Tap "Download updates manually" and check if there are any updates available. If so, install them immediately. We also recommend to enable the "Download updates automatically" option - this will enable the system to notify you once an update is released and install it automatically.

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Reset the system to its default state:

Performing a "Factory Reset" is a good way to remove all unwanted applications, restore system settings to default, and clean the device in general.

Bear in mind that all data within the device will be deleted, including photos, video/audio files, phone numbers (stored within the device, not the SIM card), SMS messages, and so on. In other words, the device will be restored to its factory state.

You can also restore the basic system settings and/or simply network settings as well.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "About phone" and tap it.

Resetting the Android operating system to its default (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Reset" and tap it. Now choose the action you want to perform:
"Reset settings" - restore all system settings to default;
"Reset network settings" - restore all network-related settings to default;
"Factory data reset" - reset the entire system and completely delete all stored data;

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable applications that have administrator privileges:

If a malicious application gains administrator-level privileges, it can seriously damage the system. To keep the device as safe as possible you should always check which apps have such privileges and disable those that should not.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 1)

Go to "Settings", scroll down until you see "Lock screen and security" and tap it.

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 2)

Scroll down until you see "Other security settings", tap it and then tap "Device admin apps".

Disabling Android applications that have administrator privileges (step 3)

Identify applications that should not have administrator privileges, tap them and then tap "DEACTIVATE".

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

A pop-up scam is a deceptive message (usually disguised as a notification from a legitimate page) claiming that a device is infected or damaged in another way.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Pop-up scams are designed to trick users into providing personal data, downloading files, installing malicious or other unwanted software, providing remote access to their computers.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

The majority of pop-up scams are delivered by deceptive pages. Users get redirected to those pages via installed malicious applications or visited pages employing questionable advertising networks.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner is capable of scanning visited websites and detecting malicious ones. Including websites displaying pop-up scams. Thus, it warns users about those pages being untrustworthy and restricts access to them.

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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.

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