PUP Malware

PUP Malware

Nowadays, it becomes increasingly different to tell the difference between a legitimate program and a potentially unwanted one and between that and an actual nasty virus infection. A question that a lot of users have been asking lately is “What is a PUP malware?” and here we are going to answer that question and also give you some important and useful pieces of advice on how to properly deal with such software on your PC.

In most cases, when a user learns about the presence of PUP malware on their machine, it is either because there has been some unusual activity on the computer (such as sudden changes to the browser and irritating generation of commercial online messages that follow the user to every site they visit) or because their antivirus/antimalware program has detected the unwanted software (PUP stands for potentially unwanted program). If your security tool has alerted you to the presence of PUP malware on your computer, what you should know is that your machine has likely not gotten attacked by some highly-dangerous malware program like a Ransomware cryptovirus, a Spyware infection or a Trojan Horse. Though PUPs can at times be hazardous and it is preferable if you remove them as soon as you learn about their presence, they are generally less problematic when compared to the virus threats that we’ve just mentioned. As said above, it is in fact sometimes difficult to discern a legitimate program from a PUP and it oftentimes depends on the personal opinion of the individual user. That being said, the general safety rule that we advise you to apply here is to remove the PUP unless you are absolutely certain that it is not something unwanted and unreliable. Removal instructions for PUP malware you could find right below, inside the following guide:

What are the potential dangers that you must be aware of?

Some of the most notable examples of PUP malware/software are apps such as browser hijackers, adware, different optimization tools of lesser quality and even some not-too-popular antivirus/antimalware programs. A common trait of a lot of PUPs (and also one of the main reasons a given piece of software gets put into this category) is that they tend to conduct aggressive advertising campaigns through the user’s browser and sometimes even without the need to use the browser as a middleman for the ads campaign. Other negative/unwanted effects that PUPs usually tend to have on the PC is that they seek to tinker with some system and Internet settings mostly without asking for an authorization from the user. All of this, though not directly harmful to the system for the most part, could easily lead to the exposure of the “infected” machine to various high-level virus threats like the ones mentioned earlier in this article (Ransomware, Worms, Rootkits, Spyware and so on). That is why, whether through the use of our manual guide or with the help of a reliable antivirus/antimalware program, you should make sure to remove the PUP. Also, remember to stay away from online content, sites and software download sources that are questionable, appear unreliable and which could lead to future infections with PUP malware.


Name PUP malware
Type  Adware/Browser Hijacker
Danger Level Medium (nowhere near threats like Ransomware, but still a security risk)
Symptoms  Different invasive activities in your system such as aggressive online ads generation, browser page-redirects and alterations to your browser and Internet settings are some of the potential symptoms.
Distribution Method Usually, file bundles and spam messages as well as misleading web requests are used to spread such software.
Detection Tool

How To Remove PUP Malware 

If you have a Windows virus, continue with the guide below.

If you have a Mac virus, please use our How to remove Ads on Mac guide.

If you have an Android virus, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.

If you have an iPhone virus, please use our iPhone Virus Removal guide


Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.

Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).



Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab (the “Details” Tab on Win 8 and 10). Try to determine which processes are dangerous. 


Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:

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    After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders. 

    Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections. 


    Hold together the Start Key and R. Type appwiz.cpl –> OK.


    You are now in the Control Panel. Look for suspicious entries. Uninstall it/them.

    Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:


    Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer or otherwise look suspicious.


    Hold the Start Key and R –  copy + paste the following and click OK:

    notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

    A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:

    hosts_opt (1)

    If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.

    Open the start menu and search for Network Connections (On Windows 10 you just write it after clicking the Windows button), press enter.

    1. Right-click on the Network Adapter you are using —> Properties —> Internet Protocol Version 4 (ICP/IP), click  Properties.
    2. The DNS line should be set to Obtain DNS server automatically. If it is not, set it yourself.
    3. Click on Advanced —> the DNS tab. Remove everything here (if there is something) —> OK.



    • After you complete this step, the threat will be gone from your browsers. Finish the next step as well or it may reappear on a system reboot.

    Right click on the browser’s shortcut —> Properties.

    NOTE: We are showing Google Chrome, but you can do this for Firefox and IE (or Edge).


    Properties —–> Shortcut. In Target, remove everything after .exe.

    Browser Hijacker Removal Instructions

    ie9-10_512x512  Remove PUP malware from Internet Explorer:

    Open IE, click  IE GEAR —–> Manage Add-ons.

    pic 3

    Find the threat —> Disable. Go to IE GEAR —–> Internet Options —> change the URL to whatever you use (if hijacked) —> Apply.

    firefox-512 Remove PUP malware from Firefox:

    Open Firefoxclick  mozilla menu  ——-> Add-ons —-> Extensions.

    pic 6

    chrome-logo-transparent-backgroundRemove PUP malware from Chrome:

    Close Chrome. Navigate to:

     C:/Users/!!!!USER NAME!!!!/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. There is a Folder called “Default” inside:

    Rename the Folder to Backup Default

    Rename it to Backup Default. Restart Chrome.


    Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter.

    Inside, press CTRL and F together and type the threat’s Name. Right click and delete any entries you find with a similar name. If they don’t show up this way, go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. It could be any one of them – ask us if you can’t discern which ones are malicious.
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

    If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!

    About the author


    Brandon Skies

    Brandon is a researcher and content creator in the fields of cyber-security and virtual privacy. Years of experience enable him to provide readers with important information and adequate solutions for the latest software and malware problems.

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