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Lenovo’s Superfish Adware and Variants


Lenovo’s Superfish adware and variants and adware techniques are being banned by the new Microsoft policy update which considers it as ‘man-in-the-middle’ adware.

When Lenovo’s Superfish controversy was exposed earlier this year, it was found to have pre-installed the adware on many of its consumer laptops. The adware technique did not only perform a browser hijack on web browsers in order to inject ads into webpages customers open, but it also generates its own root certificate so it could intercept traffic from secure sites and overlay its own ads on the page.

Since its detection and widespread media fiasco, Lenovo eventually agreed to stop pre-loading its computers with Superfish. They have also acknowledged that it was a security risk, and in turn, released an automatic removal tool.

Microsoft is ramping up its efforts in cracking down on adware next year. As per Technet blog post, they said that they are banning ad injection software that uses Superfish techniques and variants that uses ‘man-in-the-middle’ techniques, such as network layer manipulation, injection by proxy, and changing DNS settings without express consent.

We keep on wondering why they have taken so long to implement such measures. And with high hopes, Microsoft’s new policy will prevent a repeat of a similar Superfish scandal.

“All of these techniques intercept communications between the internet and the PC to inject advertisements and promotions into webpages from outside, without the control of the browser. Our intent is to keep the user in control of their browsing experience and these methods reduce that control,” Microsoft said in the post.

Microsoft’s new policy, states that any programs that show ads on the browser can only install, disable or execute programs through the browser itself. Meaning any ad software that wants to download or install something without notifying you via your browser will be blocked off and marked as adware. “Programs that create advertisements in browsers must only use the browsers’ supported extensibility model for installation, execution, disabling, and removal,” Microsoft said. “The choice and control belong to the users, and we are determined to protect that.” Additional information can be viewed here on how to check if your computer has Superfish and how to remove it.

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