What is Flow adware?
Flow is a dubious browser extension, endorsed as a tool that adds "relevant" search results into users' web searches on Google. Typically, such software injects various untrustworthy and even malicious ads into the search results. Hence, products that operate in this manner are classified as adware.
Additionally, Flow has data tracking abilities, which are used to spy on users' browsing activity. Since most users download/install adware-type products inadvertently, they are also considered to be PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
Flow adware in detail
Adware operates by enabling the placement of third-party graphical content (e.g., pop-ups, banners, coupons, etc.) on any visited website and/or different interfaces. In the case of Flow browser extension, it injects the advertisements into search results. The adverts delivered by adware can be misleading, untrustworthy, and even dangerous.
While such ads can promote legitimate content, they more commonly endorse unreliable/fraudulent material. These advertisements redirect to sale-based, rogue, scam, and malicious websites. Furthermore, some intrusive adverts can be triggered (by being clicked) to download/install software (e.g., PUAs) without user consent.
Flow can track data, which is typical of adware. Targeted information includes: browsing and search engine histories, IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, and so forth. Adware developers monetize the collected data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third-parties, likewise intent on misusing it for profit.
To summarize, the presence of unwanted software on devices can lead to 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.
|Name||Ads by Flow|
|Threat Type||Adware, Unwanted ads, Pop-up Virus|
|Supposed Functionality||Tool that adds "relevant" search results into web searches|
|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, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.|
|Damage||Decreased computer performance, browser tracking - privacy issues, possible additional malware infections.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Adware in general
Movie Finder, OpenBook, AdBlock Now, Clip Finder, and TabOptimizer are some examples of adware. This software usually appears legitimate and promises various "handy" features. However, despite how good the advertised functions may sound - they are rarely operational.
Most PUAs entice users into download/installation with nonexistent functionalities. The only aim of unwanted apps is to generate revenue for the developers; they have no real value to users. PUAs are designed to deliver advertisements, force-open questionable sites, modify browsers (browser hijackers), and collect private data.
How did Flow install on my computer?
Select PUAs (e.g., Flow) have "official" promotional webpages from which they can be downloaded and/or purchased. Intrusive adverts are used to proliferate these applications. Once clicked on, the advertisements can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user permission.
PUAs are also spread via downloaders/installers of other products. This false marketing tactic of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is termed "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the system.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is important to research software prior to download/installation. Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - often offer bundled and harmful content.
When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study available options, use "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive advertisements appear legitimate; however, they redirect to dubious sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so forth).
In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be checked and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with Flow, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this adware.
Screenshot of the website opened after Flow adware's installation is complete:
Screenshots of websites used to promote Flow adware:
An updated variant of Flow adware extension (Flow for Chrome™) in Google Chrome:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer 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 Flow?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Flow application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Flow ads from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove 'Ads by Flow' from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove Flow extension from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Flow adware removal:
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 "Flow", select this entry and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application (which causes Flow ads), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Remove Flow adware from Internet browsers:
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 "Flow", select this entry and click the trash can icon.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the ads by flow, 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 plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click "Extensions", in the opened window, remove "Flow".
Computer users who have problems with ads by flow 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 ads by flow, 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.
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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