Remove Lenovo’s Pre-Installed Adware Putting your Security at Risk

Lenovo has been included among the most successful companies worldwide and especially in the field of technology. Nevertheless, its reputation has been severely damaged due to the recent revelation of having pre-installed adware that aims to collect data and eliminate online privacy. This has come as a shock, thanks to the growing concerns of online surveillance and the continuous struggle to eliminate the non-consensual data leakage on the part of many Internet users.

All the new computers sold by Lenovo internationally are suspicious of having that malware installed right from the very first moment of their operation. So, it is worth taking the time and thinking of the consequences; a company that targets users who wish to get the best performance on their devices at the most affordable cost and compromises nothing in return have been revealed the truth about their lack of privacy.

The company has proceeded with an update on the temporary removal of the adware called Superfish. According to the update from its support forum: “Due to some issues (browser pop up behavior for example), with the Superfish Visual Discovery browser add-on, we have temporarily removed Superfish from our consumer systems until such time as Superfish is able to provide a software build that addresses these issues. As for units already in market, we have requested that Superfish auto-update a fix that addresses these issues.” Apparently, no actual accusation or accountability has been made by Lenovo. Still, the removal is definitely suspicious, as it addresses the matter and the fact that there are complaints with solid ground.

The same is discussed at the news release of the company regarding Superfish, including: “We know that users reacted to this issue with concern, and so we have taken direct action to stop shipping any products with this software.  We will continue to review what we do and how we do it in order to ensure we put our user needs, experience and priorities first.”

Superfish browser add-on seems to be the certificate authority of the sites that one visits, which is a truly alarming thing to consider. This can open the door to cyber crooks who wish to intercept your data or undermine your overall online security. You cannot be certain of the credibility or even the genuine nature of the sites that you visit. In turn, man-in-the-middle attacks can be launched with the active contribution of Superfish. As you can see, it is imperative that you get to the root of the problem and uninstall this adware as soon as possible – even yesterday, by all means!

How Many Computers are Infected?

Nobody can say for sure how many computers have been added this adware before being handed over to unsuspecting customers over the past two years. An estimate is not at all encouraging, as according to technology expert Charles Arthur there have been over 113 million PCs sold (of which more than 60% laptops, with pre-installed Superfish). This brings us to the next question which has to do with how to confirm that you actually have a problem with Visual Discovery’s Superfish tool that can harm your online experience in an irreparable manner.

Am I Infected?

A quick way of knowing whether or not your Lenovo laptop has been brought to your hands with Superfish in its initial package is by following this link. If you see a Yes answer on this page, you have got to take some immediate action towards removing the adware and getting your PC back to its normal, risk-free state. Alternatively, you can head to the Control Panel of Windows and search for “certificates”. If you click on Administrative Tools and “manage computer certificates”, you will be displayed the “Trusted Root Certification Authorities” and finally “Certificates”.

If you notice Superfish among the list with the certificates, it is highly likely that you are harmed. Still, you do not need to panic; if you follow some instructions to the letter, you will be able to avoid the negative consequences of Superfish and remain protected on the Internet. You simply need to be scholastic and experiment with the methods that are highlighted for you below.

Lenovo urges users to address their concerns and questions at the support forum, while it has released the models that have been compromised as follows: “Superfish may have appeared on these models:

G Series: G410, G510, G710, G40-70, G50-70, G40-30, G50-30, G40-45, G50-45
U Series: U330P, U430P, U330Touch, U430Touch, U530Touch
Y Series: Y430P, Y40-70, Y50-70
Z Series: Z40-75, Z50-75, Z40-70, Z50-70
S Series: S310, S410, S40-70, S415, S415Touch, S20-30, S20-30Touch
Flex Series: Flex2 14D, Flex2 15D, Flex2 14, Flex2 15, Flex2 14(BTM), Flex2 15(BTM), Flex 10
MIIX Series: MIIX2-8, MIIX2-10, MIIX2-11
YOGA Series: YOGA2Pro-13, YOGA2-13, YOGA2-11BTM, YOGA2-11HSW
E Series: E10-30”

How to Clean your Lenovo PC from Superfish?

There are several methods that can help you out towards digging deeper and uninstalling the adware called Superfish effectively, leaving no actual trace behind. Since the process of uninstalling the adware will not suffice and the certificate will continue on harming your PC, it is advised that you pay attention to the guidelines followed.

  1. According to most security experts and not just us, you will need to install a new version of your OS. So, you will erase all the traces of the adware and the certificate, just like starting fresh and taking baby steps from the very beginning. Of course, you will be advised to back up everything you need to copy and save from your PC prior to reformatting it.
  2. There is a video that explains to you how you can cease the adware from being active, though it does not actually guide you to the remaining security vulnerability. Have a look at the video here.
  3. If you do not wish to reinstall your OS, but you are worried about its security layering and you do not want to risk anything by preserving an underlying threat like Superfish, you will need to proceed with manual removal of the certificate. Here’s how you can do that on various OS:

Internet Explorer

  • Click on the icon that resembles a gear at the top right of your screen.
  • Scroll down and then click on Internet Options.
  • Choose the Content tab and click the Certificates.
  • Search Intermediate Certification Authorities and Trusted Root Certification Authorities for the suspicious adware.
  • If you come across any of the two (meaning Superfish or Visual Discovery) press the Remove button.
  • Restart, if necessary.

Google Chrome

  • Click on the icon at the top right of the screen.
  • Scroll down and click on Settings.
  • Scroll down again and click on Show Advanced Settings.
  • Head to HTTPS/SSL and click on Manage Certificates.
  • Follow the same process as that in IE (meaning to search for the suspicious adware and remove the threat with the respective button).
  • If needed, restart.

Mozilla Firefox

  • Head to Options/Preferences
  • Click on Advanced and then go to Certificates
  • View Certificates will display a list
  • If you find Superfish or Visual Discovery, remove it safely and restart your PC (if necessary)

Of course, there have been no incidents of Firefox being affected by the adware. However, you had better be safe than sorry!

A quicker way to achieve the goal can also be tried, the steps for it are followings:

  • Click the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen.
  • Type “cmd.exe” and press Enter.
  • Type “certmgr.msc” and press Enter again.
  • Choose “Trusted Root Certification Authorities” and then go to Certificates.
  • Choose Superfish and/or Visual Discovery. Right-click on them and press Delete.
  • As always, you will have to restart your PC if prompted to do so.

Last but not least, you can check out Microsoft support page and see the method that is highlighted there for removing a root certificate. Although these instructions have not been updated for a really long time, they may still work and help you out towards getting rid of such an imminent threat.

As you can easily comprehend, Lenovo has made a major mistake that can lead to grave negative reputation impact in the long run. Most Internet users value privacy and anonymity, as well as safety online, above anything else. So, this flaw that results in severe privacy concerns deteriorates the user experience and eventually forms a really bad opinion about the manufacturer that is supposed to seek ways that shield online protection.

Nevertheless, you ought to make sure that you keep your PC perfectly secured at all times. We hope that we have offered you the way to do that now as well, with such a threat lurking in the dark and depriving people of their feeling of online safety!

Top/Featured Image: By Lenovophotolibrary via Flickr

Ali Qamar Ali Qamar is a seasoned blogger and loves keeping a keen eye on the future of tech. He is a geek. He is a privacy enthusiast and advocate. He is crazy (and competent) about internet security, digital finance, and technology. Ali is the founder of PrivacySavvy and an aspiring entrepreneur.

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