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Monday, June 23, 2014

What is PUP.Optional.NetworkUpdate.A and how to remove it?

Tell your friends:
PUP.Optional.NetworkUpdate.A is a potentially unwanted program that may display ads, hijack your web browser and secretly download additional malware, including spyware, to your computer. As the detection name suggest, it's only potentially unwanted and there should be an option to not install it. However, that's not always the case because such programs are very often bundled with freeware and adware. As you can imagine scammers sometimes use silent installers to increase the number of infected computers and expend their networks. In other words, there's no option to decline the download, it starts automatically in the background without your knowledge and permission. If you found this infection or associated files in System and Program data folders, for instance nethtsrv.exe and netupdsrv.exe, then please follow the steps in the removal guide down below.

It can seem like a real mystery: you do something as innocent as updating your browser and suddenly you have programs that you did not consciously download and as far as you were aware you didn't give permission to be installed. So how were these mysterious programs downloaded and how did they install themselves without your say-so? And how do you make sure this doesn't happen in the future?

PUP.Optional.NetworkUpdate.A usually comes bundled in with a download that you did actually want – sneaky! However some PUPs can be installed by 'drive by'downloads – when you've visited an infected website and it's then infected YOU with a PUP. For the most part these drive bys are enabled thanks to a weakness in your PCs security. Currently Oracle Java is the most vulnerable, followed by Flash player. Besides, scammers often use fake Flash player update web pages to trick users into installing adware and PUPs.

So what do you do if you want to see if you have a Potentially Unwanted Program on your computer? This is a simple process which you can check in the Windows Control Panel. Simply choose 'Programs' and then hit 'Uninstall or Change a Program'. Any program you installed yourself should be registered with the Windows Add/Remove Programs function so here you'll see the names of the programs, their publishers and the date you installed them. If you see something you don't recognize you should be able to uninstall it here. Then, scan your computer with anti-malware software because very often PUPs come bundled with adware and spyware.

You might also want to take it one step further by clicking on the 'Installed On' header in the uninstaller as this allows you to sort the list of programs by date. If one of the programs that you did install intentionally has the same date and time stamp as your unwanted program this is a good indication that it installed your PUP too.

Even if you think you're downloading a reputable program, it is possible that it has been repackaged by another website to include PUP.Optional.NetworkUpdate.A that the original publisher knows nothing about. Bear this in mind and make sure you only download programs from their original websites or from a site that you know to be a trustworthy and reputable one. Also exercise judgment when clicking on search engine links and adverts in Google - there no shortage of unscrupulous people out there that are more than willing to take your money for programs that are supposed to be free and/or abuse them by packaging them with programs that you didn't ask for and probably don't want.

So, in short, the message is clear – be vigilant when you're online and only download programs if you trust them and you trust the site that you are downloading from. PUPs may sound cute but cluttering up your computer with Potentially Unwanted Programs is not!

Written by Michael Kaur,

PUP.Optional.NetworkUpdate.A removal instructions:

1. First of all, download anti-malware software and run a full system scan. It will detect and remove this infection from your computer. You may then follow the manual removal instructions below to remove the leftover traces of this malware. Hopefully you won't have to do that.

2. Remove potentially unwanted extensions from your web browser.

Google Chrome:
1. Click on Chrome menu button. Go to ToolsExtensions.
2. Click on the trashcan icon and remove the extensions that might be causing pop ups. Basically, remove all extensions that you didn't install. It's perfectly OK to remove all extensions since by default Google Chrome comes without any extensions.

Mozilla Firefox:
1. Go to ToolsAdd-ons.
2. Select Extensions. Remove all extensions that you didn't install. Please note, by default Firefox comes without any extensions.

Internet Explorer:
1. Go to ToolsManage Add-ons. If you have the latest version, simply click on the Settings button.
2. Select Toolbars and Extensions. Remove all add-ons that you didn't install or you believe may cause those annoying pop-ups to show up.

3. Download CCleaner and tidy up your computer, remove temp files, etc.