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How to uninstall apps designed to open special-message.online?

Also Known As: Ads by special-message.online
Type: Adware
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Special-message[.]online pop-up ads removal instructions

What is special-message[.]online?

Special-message[.]online is pretty similar to wouldreallyl[.]biz, success-news[.]net, ooddeco[.]online, and many other pages designed to load deceptive content and open untrustworthy websites. It is worth mentioning that their behavior depends on the IP address of their visitors. In one way or another, special-message[.]online and other pages of this type cannot be trusted. In most cases, they get opened via dubious ads or websites and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) installed on browsers, computers - users do not visit them intentionally.

special-message[.]online pop-up redirects

Like most websites of this type, special-message[.]online asks for permission to show notifications. It is common for pages like this one to use some clickbait technique to trick their visitors into allowing them to show notifications (into clicking the "Allow" button). If allowed, they constantly show notifications promoting unreliable websites, potentially malicious applications, etc. Examples of notifications that this site displays are provided below. At the time of the research, after getting permission to show notifications special-message[.]online opened a download page for some unwanted application. This page may open other untrustworthy sites, for example, download pages for browser hijackers, adware, scam pages used to trick visitors into providing personal information, and other sites. Here are a couple of examples of pages that a site like special-message[.]online may open: "Google Membership Rewards", "Norton Antivirus 2021 Update", "Error Code: #0x564897".

It is important to mention that untrustworthy pages can be promoted through various potentially unwanted applications. Apps of this kind can be designed to gather browsing-related details like addresses of visited websites, entered search queries, geolocations, IP addresses, etc. In some cases, they can access information that could be used to steal personal accounts, identities, make unauthorized purchases, transactions, etc. Another problem with PUAs is that they can be monetized by designing them to generate advertisements, for example, unwanted banners, surveys, pop-up ads, coupons. It is common that those ads are used to promote questionable websites or can cause unwanted downloads, installations. Therefore, apps of this kind should never be downloaded and installed neither on browsers nor computers.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by special-message.online
Threat Type Push notifications ads, Unwanted ads, Pop-up ads
Detection Names alphaMountain.ai (Suspicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address 95.168.170.165 
Related Domains 26rct.special-message[.]online, q3jkk.special-message[.]online, glms7.special-message[.]online, dzqt2.special-message[.]online, rdyjy.special-message[.]online
Symptoms Seeing advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing. Intrusive pop-up ads. Decreased Internet browsing speed.
Distribution Methods Deceptive pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications (adware)
Damage Decreased computer performance, browser tracking - privacy issues, possible additional malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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In conclusion, websites like special-message[.]online are promoted through questionable advertisements, other untrustworthy web pages, and potentially unwanted applications - apps that can be designed to gather various data and display advertisements. It is important to mention that most PUAs are useless - they do not improve the web browsing experience, have any useful features, etc. The main purpose of those applications is to generate revenue for their developers. Typically, users download and install PUAs accidentally/without knowing about it.

How did adware install on my computer?

It is common for potentially unwanted applications to be downloaded or installed alongside other programs - when PUAs are included in their downloaders or installers as additional offers. Usually, users can decline unwanted offers using "Advanced", "Custom", "Manual" or other settings, or by unticking ticked checkboxes. However, not all users check downloaders and installers for unwanted offers and leave their settings unchanged. In such cases, users download and install both wanted and additionally included programs. Sometimes users download, install PUAs by clicking on ads. However, only when they click ads designed to run certain scripts. In most cases, ads of this type appear on untrustworthy pages.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Applications or files should not be downloaded from questionable sources like Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., eMule, torrent clients), unofficial websites, third-party downloaders, and other sources of this kind, or installed via third-party installers. Files downloaded not from official websites or via direct links may be designed to install unwanted, potentially malicious apps. Furthermore, downloaders and installers with settings like "Advanced", "Custom", "Manual" often are used to distribute PUAs. Therefore, their settings should be checked before finishing downloads, installations. Ads that appear on shady pages can be designed to open unreliable pages or cause downloads, installations of unwanted programs. Those ads should not be clicked as well. If there are any suspicious, unwanted extensions, plug-ins, or add-ons installed on a web browser, then they should be uninstalled. The same should be done with the software of this kind installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with rogue applications, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Appearance of special-message[.]online website (GIF):

special-message[.]online website appearance (GIF)

Notifications from special-message[.]online:

special-message.online ads notification special-message.online ads notification 2 special-message.online ads notification 3

IMPORTANT NOTE! This deceptive site asks to enable web browser notifications.

Therefore, before commencing, perform these steps:

Google Chrome (PC):

  • Click the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Settings", scroll down to the bottom and click "Advanced"
  • Scroll down to the "Privacy and security" section, select "Content settings" and then "Notifications"
  • Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)

Disable pop-up' notifications in Google Chrome web browser

Google Chrome (Android):

  • Click on the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen and click "Settings"
  • Scroll down, click on "Site settings" and then "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs and click on them one-by-one
  • Select "Notifications" in the "Permissions" section and set the toggle button to "OFF"

Disable pop-up' notifications in Android Google Chrome web browser

Mozilla Firefox:

  • Click the Menu button (three bars) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Options" and click on "Privacy & Security" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen
  • Scroll down to the "Permissions" section and click the "Settings" button next to "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs, click the drop-down menu and select "Block"

Disable pop-up' notifications in Mozilla Firefox web browser

Internet Explorer:

  • Click the Gear button on the right upper corner of the IE window
  • Select "Internet options"
  • Select the "Privacy" tab and click "Settings" under "Pop-up Blocker" section
  • Select suspicious URLs under and remove them one by one by clicking the "Remove" button

Disable pop-up' notifications in Internet Explorer web browser

Microsoft Edge:

  • Click the menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the Edge window
  • Scroll down, find and click "Settings"
  • Scroll down again and click "View advanced settings"
  • Click "Manage" under "Website permissions"
  • Click the switch under each suspicious website

Disable pop-up notifications in Microsoft Edge web browser

Safari (Mac):

  • Click "Safari" button on the left upper corner of the screen and select "Preferences..."
  • Select the "Websites" tab and then select "Notifications" section on the left pane
  • Check for suspicious URLs and apply the "Deny" option for each

Disable pop-up' notifications in Safari web browser

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Quick menu:

Adware removal:

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.

special-message[.]online adware uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any potentially unwanted applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application that causes special-message[.]online redirects, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove adware from Internet browsers:

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

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing special-message[.]online  ads 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 special-message[.]online ads from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by special-message.online, 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 plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing special-message[.]online ads 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 "Extensions", in the opened window, remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing special-message[.]online ads from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with ads by special-message.online 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 ads by special-message.online, 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 special-message[.]online ads 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 special-message[.]online ads from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by special-message.online, 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 ads by special-message.online from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
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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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Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Ads by special-message.online QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Ads by special-message.online on your mobile device.
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