Remove Smart Protection 2012 (Uninstall Guide)
By Lawrence Abrams
on January 22, 2012 @ 09:40 PM | Read 27,267 times.
Smart Protection 2012 is a rogue anti-spyware program from the same family
as Security Sphere 2012. This program is categorized as a rogue
anti-spyware program because it pretends to be a legitimate security program, but is actually a program that purposely display false scan results, fake
security alerts, and hijacks your computer so that you are not able to run your normal applications. Smart Protection 2012 is installed onto a computer
through other viruses, hacked websites that exploit vulnerable programs on your computer, or through fake online anti-malware scanners that prompt you to
install the program. When Smart Protection is installed it will create 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.
Smart Protection 2012 Screen shot
For more screen shots of this infection click on the image above.
There are a total of 2 images you can view.
Once this rogue is started it will automatically pretend to scan your computer for viruses. When it has finished it will state that there are numerous
infections on your computer, but will not allow you to remove any of them until you first purchase the program. The scan results for this program will not
include any actual file names of the supposed infections, but rather just descriptions of the threat. It is important to understand that Smart Protection
2012 was created for one reason; to scare you into thinking that your computer is severely infected so that you will then purchase the program. With that
said, you should not be alarmed by any of the scan results that this program displays.
As protection mechanism, Smart Protection 2012 will terminate any executables that you attempt to run on your computer. It does this to prevent you from
running legitimate security programs that may detect and remove this infection. When you attempt to start an executable you will instead be greeted with the
following false message:
Application cannot be executed. The file notepad.exe is infected.
Please activate your antivirus software.
While Smart Protection 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 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...
Smart Protection 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.
Smart Protection 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 Smart Protection 2012
Just like the fake scan results, these security alerts are all false and should be ignored.
As you can see, this program was created for the sole purpose of scaring you into thinking your computer has a problem and that you should purchase Smart
Protection 2012 in order to fix it. It goes without
saying that you should definitely not buy Smart Protection 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 Smart Protection 2012 and other
related malware, please use the free removal guide below.
View Smart Protection 2012 files.
View Smart Protection 2012 Registry Information.
Tools Needed for this fix:
Symptoms that may be in a HijackThis Log:
O4 - HKCU\..\RunOnce: [<random>] %CommonAppData%\<random>\<random>.exe
01/22/12 - Initial guide creation.
Automated Removal Instructions for Smart Protection 2012 using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:
- Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is
open later in the fix.
- 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You should now be in the Internet Options screen as shown in the image below.
Now click on the Connections tab as designated by the blue
- You will now be at the Connections tab as shown by the image below.
Now click on the Lan Settings button as designated by the
blue arrow above.
- You will now be at the Local Area Network (LAN) settings screen as shown
by the image below.
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.
- 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:
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:
If TDSSKiller requires you to reboot, please allow it to do so. After you reboot, reboot back into Safe Mode with Networking again.
Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help Topic
- When in Safe More with Networking, we must first end the processes that belong to
Smart Protection 2012
so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please
download RKill to your desktop from the following link.
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.
- Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe
icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with
Smart Protection 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
Smart Protection 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
Smart Protection 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.
- At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any any infections or adware that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following
location and save it to your desktop:
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)
- Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including
- Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mbam-setup.exe.
This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.
- 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 Launch
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.
- MBAM will now start and you will be at the main screen as shown below.
Please click on the Scan Now button to start the scan. If there is an update available for Malwarebytes it will automatically download and install it before performing the scan.
- MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can
take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically
check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
- When MBAM is finished scanning it will display a screen that displays any malware that it has detected. Please note that the infections found may be different
than what is shown in the image below due to the guide being updated for newer versions of MBAM.
You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove
all the seleted 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
- You can now exit the MBAM program.
- 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,
Smart Protection 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:
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.
- 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.
XP HOSTS File Download Link
Your Windows HOSTS file should now be back to the default one from when Windows
was first installed.
Vista HOSTS File Download Link
2003 Server HOSTS File Download Link
2008 Server HOSTS File Download Link
7 HOSTS File Download Link
- Now reboot your computer.
- 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.
- 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:
detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Your computer should now be free of the
Smart Protection 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
View Associated Smart Protection 2012 Files
%StartMenu%\Programs\Smart Protection 2012.lnk
File Location Notes:
%CommonAppData% refers to the Application Data folder for the All Users Profile. By default, this is C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data for Windows 2000/XP and C:\ProgramData\ in 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.
%CommonAppData% refers to the Application Data folder in the All Users profile. For Windows XP, Vista, NT, 2000 and 2003 it refers to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\, and for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 it is C:\ProgramData.
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.