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Remove Security Sphere 2012 (Uninstall Guide)

By on September 29, 2011 @ 02:50 PM | Last Updated: October 17, 2011 | Read 131,380 times.
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Security Sphere 2012 is a computer infection from the same family as Security Shield. This infection is also categorized as a rogue anti-spyware program as it pretends to be a legitimate security program, but is actually a program that display false scan results and false alerts and hijacks your computer so that you are not able to run your normal applications. Security Sphere 2012 is installed through the use of hacked web sites, exploits, and fake online scanners that attempt to install the program onto your computer without your knowledge or permission. When installed, the infection files will be created in a random named folder in c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\, in XP, or C:\ProgramData, in Windows Vista and Windows 7. It will then be configured to start automatically when you login to your computer.

 

Security Sphere 2012 screen shot
Security Sphere 2012 screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 6 images you can view.

 

Once running it will scan your computer and state that there are numerous infections present, but will not allow you to remove them until you purchase the program. It is important to understand that Security Sphere 2012 is designed to display fake scan results regardless of whether or not your computer is infected. Therefore, please do not be concerned if this program states you are infected. Security Sphere 2012 will also terminate any executables that you attempt to run in order to protect itself from being removed. When you attempt to run any program, it will terminate that program's process and then display a message similar to the following that states that the program is infected:

Warning!
Application cannot be executed. The file notepad.exe is infected.
Please activate your antivirus software.

While Security Sphere 2012 is running it will also display fake security alerts and warnings from your Windows taskbar. These alerts are designed to scare you into thinking that your computer is severely infected and that you should purchase the program to protect yourself. The text of these messages include:

Warning: Your computer is infected
Detected spyware infection!
Click this message to install the last update of security software...

Security Sphere 2012 Warning
Your computer is still infected with dangerous viruses. Activate antivirus protection to prevent data loss and avoid theft of your credit card details.
Click here to activate protection.

Security Sphere 2012 Warning
Intercepting programs that may compromise your privacy and harm your system have been detected on your PC.
Click here to remove them immediately with Security Sphere 2012

While the infection is running it will also hijack your web browser to display security warnings when you attempt to browse the web. This warning will state that the site you are visiting is unsafe and has attempted to infect your computer. The text of this browser hijack is:

Warning message from Internet browser. This page under virus attack. This may crash your system.

This may be caused by:

  • Virus content founded at this site trying to install its components.
  • Malicious & unknown network processes are determined.
  • Your system is under virus attack
  • Negative references from other citizens concerning this web page.
  • Your system ports and backdoors have been checked by visited page for external access.

Recommendations:

  • Obtain a license of "Security Sphere 2012" to protect your PC for the safest browsing Internet pages (desirable)
  • Launch spyware, virus and malware scanning process.
  • Keep browsing

Just like the fake scan results, these security alerts are all false and should be ignored.

Without a doubt, this infection was designed to convince you that you are infected through the use of fake scan results and false security alerts so that you will be scared into purchasing the program. It goes without saying that you should definitely not buy Security Sphere 2012, and if you already have, please contact your credit card company and dispute the charges stating that the program is a scam and a computer virus. To remove Security Sphere 2012 and other related malware, please use the free removal guide below.

 

Threat Classification:

 

Advanced information:

View Security Sphere 2012 files.
View Security Sphere 2012 Registry Information.

 

Tools Needed for this fix:

 

Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:

O4 - HKCU\..\RunOnce: [<random>] %AllUsersProfile%\<random>\<random>.exe

 

Guide Updates:

09/29/11 - Initial guide creation.
10/17/11 - Updated instructions to include TDSSKiller

 


Automated Removal Instructions for Security Sphere 2012 using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:

 

  1. Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is open later in the fix.

  2. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode with Networking. To do this, turn your computer off and then back on and immediately when you see anything on the screen, start tapping the F8 key on your keyboard. Eventually you will be brought to a menu similar to the one below:


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

    Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter on your keyboard. If you are having trouble entering safe mode, then please use the following tutorial: How to start Windows in Safe Mode

    Windows will now boot into safe mode with networking and prompt you to login as a user. Please login as the same user you were previously logged in with in the normal Windows mode. Then proceed with the rest of the steps.

  3. It is possible that the infection you are trying to remove will not allow you to download files on the infected computer. If this is the case, then you will need to download the files requested in this guide on another computer and then transfer them to the infected computer. You can transfer the files via a CD/DVD, external drive, or USB flash drive.

  4. This infection may change your Windows settings to use a proxy server that will not allow you to browse any pages on the Internet with Internet Explorer or update security software. Regardless of the web browser you use, for these instructions we will first need need to fix this problem so that we can download the utilities we need to remove this infection.

    Please start Internet Explorer, and when the program is open, click on the Tools menu and then select Internet Options as shown in the image below.



    Internet Explorer Tools Menu


  5. You should now be in the Internet Options screen as shown in the image below.



    Internet Options screen



    Now click on the Connections tab as designated by the blue arrow above.

  6. You will now be at the Connections tab as shown by the image below.


    Internet Options connections tab



    Now click on the Lan Settings button as designated by the blue arrow above.

  7. You will now be at the Local Area Network (LAN) settings screen as shown by the image below.



    Proxy Settings screen



    Under the Proxy Server section, please uncheck the checkbox labeled Use a proxy server for your LAN. Then press the OK button to close this screen. Then press the OK button to close the Internet Options screen. Now that you have disabled the proxy server you will be able to browse the web again with Internet Explorer.

  8. As this infection is known to be bundled with the TDSS rootkit infection, you should also run a program that can be used to scan for this infection. Please follow the steps in the following guide:
    How to remove Google Redirects or the TDSS, TDL3, or Alureon rootkit using TDSSKiller
    If after running TDSSKiller, you are still unable to update Malwarebytes' Anti-malware or continue to have Google search result redirects, then you should post a virus removal request using the steps in the following topic rather than continuing with this guide:

    Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help Topic

    If TDSSKiller requires you to reboot, please allow it to do so. After you reboot, reboot back into Safe Mode with Networking again.

  9. When in Safe More with Networking, we must first end the processes that belong to Security Sphere 2012 so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please download RKill to your desktop from the following link.

    RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)

    When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe download link. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.

  10. Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with Security Sphere 2012 and other Rogue programs. Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just a fake warning given by Security Sphere 2012 when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that RKill can terminate Security Sphere 2012 . So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.

    If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the RKill download page. Both of these files are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.

  11. Now you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, from the following location and save it to your desktop:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)

  12. Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including this one.

  13. Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe. This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.

  14. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave both the Update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes' prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.

  15. MBAM will now automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program before performing a scan. As MBAM will automatically update itself after the install, you can press the OK button to close that box and you will now be at the main program as shown below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Screen

  16. On the Scanner tab, make sure the the Perform full scan option is selected and then click on the Scan button to start scanning your computer for Security Sphere 2012 related files.

  17. MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can take quite a while, so we suggest you go and do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan. When MBAM is scanning it will look like the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scanning Screen

  18. When the scan is finished a message box will appear as shown in the image below.


    MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Scan Finished Screen

    You should click on the OK button to close the message box and continue with the Security Sphere 2012 removal process.

  19. You will now be back at the main Scanner screen. At this point you should click on the Show Results button.

  20. A screen displaying all the malware that the program found will be shown as seen in the image below. Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.


    MalwareBytes Scan Results


    You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the listed malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.

  21. When MBAM has finished removing the malware, it will open the scan log and display it in Notepad. Review the log as desired, and then close the Notepad window.

  22. You can now exit the MBAM program.

  23. As this infection also changes your Windows HOSTS file, we want to replace this file with the default version for your operating system. Please note that if you or your company has added custom entries to your HOSTS file then you will need to add them again after restoring the default HOSTS file. In order to protect itself, Security Sphere 2012 changes the permissions of the HOSTS file so you can't edit or delete it. To fix these permissions please download the following batch file and save it to your desktop:
    hosts-perm.bat Download Link
    When the file has finished downloading, double-click on the hosts-perm.bat file that is now on your desktop. If Windows asks if you if you are sure you want to run it, please allow it to run. Once it starts you will see a small black window that opens and then quickly goes away. This is normal and is nothing to be worried about. You should now be able to access your HOSTS file.

  24. We now need to delete the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\HOSTS file. Once it is deleted, download the following HOSTS file that corresponds to your version of Windows and save it in the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc folder. If the contents of the HOSTS file opens in your browser when you click on a link below then right-click on the appropriate link and select Save Target As..., if in Internet Explorer, or Save Link As.., if in Firefox, to download the file.
    Windows XP HOSTS File Download Link
    Windows Vista HOSTS File Download Link
    Windows 2003 Server HOSTS File Download Link
    Windows 2008 Server HOSTS File Download Link
    Windows 7 HOSTS File Download Link
    Your Windows HOSTS file should now be back to the default one from when Windows was first installed.

  25. Now reboot your computer.

  26. After rebooting if you are still unable to access the Internet, please confirm that your browser is not configured to use a proxy by following the instructions in steps 4-7. It is not required to perform these steps in Windows Safe Mode.

  27. As many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:

    How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector

 

Your computer should now be free of the Security Sphere 2012 program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.

If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow the steps outlined in the topic linked below:

Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help

 


 

Associated Security Sphere 2012 Files:

%AllUsersProfile%\<random>\
%AllUsersProfile%\<random>\<random>
%AllUsersProfile%\<random>\<random>.exe
%StartMenu%\Programs\Security Sphere 2012.lnk

File Location Notes:

%AllUsersProfile% refers to the All Users Profile folder. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\All Users for Windows 2000/XP and C:\ProgramData\ for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

%StartMenu% refers to the Windows Start Menu. For Windows 95/98/ME it refers to C:\windows\start menu\, for Windows XP, Vista, NT, 2000 and 2003 it refers to C:\Documents and Settings\<Current User>\Start Menu\, and for Windows Vista/7/8 it is C:\Users\<Current User>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu.

 

Associated Security Sphere 2012 Windows Registry Information:

HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\featurecontrol\FEATURE_BROWSER_EMULATION "svchost.exe"
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings "enablehttp1_1" = '1'
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce "<random>"

 


 

This is a self-help guide. Use at your own risk.

BleepingComputer.com can not be held responsible for problems that may occur by using this information. If you would like help with any of these fixes, you can ask for malware removal assistance in our Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs forum.

If you have any questions about this self-help guide then please post those questions in our Am I infected? What do I do? and someone will help you.


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