6th January 2012 

OpenShopper Adware Leaves Your System Open for Malware

Ads are part of our everyday landscape; in print, on television, and especially online, advertisements are often the cost of doing business on the Internet.  We accept them as necessary, and sometimes even helpful, additions to our browsing experiences.  But ads can very easily be used – or misused – by rogue programs.  Not all adware programs are malicious, but those that inundate users with irritating and invasive popups and ads, while tracking and logging browsing habits, are annoying and can be dangerous.  OpenShopper, one of these adware programs, does more than display ads; it leaves your computer vulnerable to malware and other threats.

What is Adware?

Ad-supported software is bundled in with free software programs in order to pay for the cost of development and earn revenue for the manufacturer.  In itself, it is not malicious.  The web browser, Opera, for instance, offers a product of value for users and displays ads for revenue.  This is a model that is used by Facebook, Google, and other free services.  “Adware” takes on a negative connotation, however, when the methods used by developers are underhanded or unclear to users. 

Adware becomes a threat when it is installed without the users’ knowledge, when the ads become intrusive and detract from the quality of the Web experience, when browsing activity is monitored, and when the program continually redirects users to rogue websites. 

Introduction to OpenShopper

OpenShopper, or Open Shopper, is adware that is also classified as a “search hijacker.”  It has several prominent, and intrusive, behaviors:

·         This adware program collects search query information from legitimate engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.  It uses the keyword data to select ads that are more “relevant” to you.

·         The “potentially unwanted program” influences search activity. It redirects users to rogue websites which display distracting ads.

·         It hijacks your homepage and replaces it with its own “search engine.” Regardless of the search query entered, the adware program will display malicious links.

·         OpenShopper installs its own toolbar on your browser.  Queries are redirected to links that advertise products.

The end goal is to make money from pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns or to drive up the cost of advertising for legitimate businesses. The advertisers that use PPC pay a small fee every time the ad is clicked on; adware like OpenShopper can artificially inflate the cost for these ads and knock out competitors. 

Signs of OpenShopper

The first sign that your computer is affected by adware is the increase in ads, particularly popups, and you will be rerouted when trying to search from legitimate engines like Google.  These are the hallmarks of adware programs but there are other, more subtle, signs to watch for.  These include:

·         Slower performance.  The adware program will run in the background, diverting your computer’s resources for its own use and slowing down legitimate programs.

·         New shortcuts, icons, and/or a changed homepage. Again, the goal is to get you to the rogue websites and display the money-making ads.

·         Emails from your account.  OpenShopper may be able to access your email and send your contacts malicious links, attachments, or spam.

It is important to remove adware like this as soon as possible because it interferes with your ability to search and navigate the Web privately.  It can also leave your system open to other forms of malware.

OpenShopper Access

The question on many computer users’ minds is: how did this adware program get into my system?  OpenShopper, like other rogue applications, depends on stealth for access to your computer.  Most adware comes bundled with free or low-cost software applications.  This is done by legitimate companies as well, but it becomes malicious when the end-user is unaware of the adware or the licensing agreement is unclear or incomplete.  When you download the software, you download the adware.

Other times, programs like this are able to enter on the back of a Trojan.  Visiting an affected website, clicking on an ad or banner, or downloading a video or image can allow the Trojan to enter and then it is able to deposit malware.  Sites that are particularly vulnerable to Trojans include those with peer-to-peer, freeware, gaming, adult, pirated, and trending content.  Often, the Trojan disguises itself as a necessary piece of software, such as a video codec.

Removing OpenShopper

The next question that computer owners’ have is: how can I remove OpenShopper from my computer?  This is important because, in addition to impairing your ability to browse freely, the adware can create or exploit security vulnerabilities that can leave your system open to other forms of malware.

Adware is difficult to remove, and this is exactly what its developers want.  It is able to hide itself in your system registry, and often these programs modify security settings in order to run unimpeded. Another feature they share is that if only partially removed, they can recreate themselves and launch again after reboot.  For these reasons, running a standard antivirus scan, using the Add/Delete function, or trying to uninstall the rogue will not be effective.  What can users do to remove adware?

Automatic removal is the best option for everyone.  With a program like Enigma's SpyHunter or Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Malwarebytes has free malware removal) , you can simply run the software and remove every trace of the adware.  It is fast, easy, and will not interfere with your computer’s legitimate programs.

Another option is manual removal, and while it can be effective, it is not recommended for those without technical experience. The risk is two-fold: it is possible to miss files associated with OpenShopper, allowing it to recreate itself.  It is also possible to delete necessary files and cause damage to your system registry.  If you have time and expertise, the following directions will help you remove the adware manually.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Tip:  Always back up your registry before you start!

Stop Processes:




Delete Registry Keys:






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