Is CCleaner Malware? How to Clean and be Safe?

CCleaner, a legitimate and popular system optimization tool, found itself in the limelight back in 2017. Why? Hackers managed to inject malicious code, known as Foxif, into the program, turning an innocent tool into a data-stealing malware. This discovery sent shockwaves throughout the cyber security industry.

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What is CCleaner Malware?

The CCleaner malware is designed to collect data from your computer. This data includes your computer’s name, the list of installed software, running processes, MAC addresses for the first three network interfaces, and unique IDs to identify each computer. The malware had a secondary function too: the ability to download and execute other malicious programs, although Avast reports this function was never used.

Fast forward to 2024 and security software like Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes now flag CCleaner as a PUP, or Potentially Unwanted Program. While not strictly malware in the traditional sense, these programs are still seen as unsuitable for most business networks.

How to Identify Malware Symptoms?

So how do you tell if you’ve got a CCleaner malware infection? If your device is slower than usual, you could be a victim. The following versions of the CCleaner program are known to be at risk:

  • Piriform CCleaner 5.33.6162 or CCleaner Cloud 1.07.3191 — both released in August 2017
  • The Windows 32-bit version of the 2017 release
  • CCleaner 5.52.6967 — released in January 2019

To check which version of CCleaner you have installed, simply open the CCleaner app. The version number will be displayed in the upper left corner next to the CCleaner logo. If you’re not up to date with the latest safe version, it’s time to update your app.

  What is Win32:pup-gen and how to remove it?

How to Clean Infected Computer?

If you’ve confirmed the presence of CCleaner malware on your device, it’s time to take action. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Remove CCleaner Infected Version

For Windows 10/11 users, the process is straightforward:

  • Open the ‘Start’ menu
  • Click on ‘Settings’
  • Click ‘System’
  • Choose ‘Apps and Features’
  • Find ‘CCleaner’ in the list of programs
  • Click ‘Uninstall’ from the horizontal menu above the programs list

Step 2: Run a Virus Scan

Uninstalling the program doesn’t guarantee complete removal of the malware. It’s advisable to run a thorough scan of your computer with a reliable third-party antivirus program. I personally recommend TotalAV, known for its consistent performance at independent AV testing labs.

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Step 3: Update to the Latest Version

Finally, visit the official CCleaner website and download the latest version, free from any malware infection and reinstall it.

Remember, in the world of cyber security, knowledge is power. Keep yourself informed and your software updated to stay one step ahead of the hackers. If you’re in need of a top-notch antivirus software, consider downloading TotalAV or at least give their trial version a shot.

Is CCleaner Safe now?

You bet it is. Despite some rough patches in the past, CCleaner has come a long way in re-establishing its credibility.

CCleaner’s Security Concerns: A Blast From the Past

Remember back in 2017 when CCleaner was hit with a backdoor attack? It was a big deal. The attack compromised the software installed on 32-bit Windows systems. If you’re into numbers, you’ll find it staggering that approximately 2.27 million machines were affected by this assault.

And it wasn’t a one-time event. In 2019, Avast (CCleaner’s parent company) announced that some malicious attacker had infiltrated their network. The likely plan? A supply chain attack targeting CCleaner. Thankfully, this attempt was foiled. These hackers used stolen credentials to gain admin privileges. Even though they had the upper hand, they couldn’t launch a harmful release.

CCleaner’s Current Status: A Safer Haven

Now, you may be asking, “What about now? Is CCleaner still a ticking time bomb?” Here’s the good news: Since 2019, there haven’t been any reports of cyberattacks on CCleaner or any further security concerns that should keep you up at night. Moreover, CCleaner now offers a host of advanced security features to bolster your device’s performance.

Does CCleaner Sell Your Data?

Well, it’s true that Avast has faced accusations of data selling, but hold the phone. The product in the hot seat was their antivirus program, not CCleaner. So, to put your minds at ease, there’s no evidence that CCleaner is profiting off your data.

Is There a Better Product than CCleaner?

This is subjective. There are many alternatives that offer similar features and functionality. But, remember, it’s always wise to do your own research before jumping ship.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it all up, while CCleaner has had its fair share of security issues in the past, it’s fought back hard. It’s taken a proactive stance to enhance its security features and improve device performance. But as always, it’s up to you to decide if it’s the right fit for your needs. And if you’re still on the fence, why not download a trial version and give it a whirl? You might find it’s just what you’ve been looking for.

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