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Lenovo has had some explaining to do this week.

Lenovo has been shipping laptops and personal computers since 2010 with adware it uses to inject advertising into their customer’s browsers. That might come as unpleasant surprise to Lenovo users, but what is more important is that the same software can be used by criminal hackers to intercept their web communication, including when they provide login credentials and personal or financial information.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

Note: The problem may not be limited to Lenovo users. It is important to check to see if Superfish is installed on your computer. See below.

The “Superfish” adware installed on some Lenovo PCs installs a non-unique trusted root certification authority (CA) certificate that allows an attacker to spoof HTTPS traffics to read encrypted communication and impersonate web sites without the browser generating warnings that the site is untrustworthy. This type of attack is referred to as a man-in-the middle attack because the hacker inserts a process in between the web browser and the web server. All browser-based encrypted traffic to the Internet is intercepted, decrypted, and re-encrypted to the user’s browser by the application.

Because the certificates used by Superfish are signed by the CA installed by the software, the browser will not display any warnings that the traffic is being tampered with. Since the private key can easily be recovered from the Superfish software, an attacker can generate a certificate for any website that will be trusted by a system with the Superfish software installed.

Hackers especially target users accessing Banking and Financial sites to intercept their credentials and commit financial fraud.

Lenovo has stated they discontinued the practice of pre-installing Superfish Visual Discovery, but is not saying when and systems with the software will continue to remain vulnerable.

How Do I know if I have Superfish Installed?

The following web site has been setup to tell users if they have Superfish installed and are at risk:

Simply go the site and it will let you know if you are at risk or safe.

What Do I Do if I am at Risk?

Users of Comodo Internet Security can be confident that they already have the best antivirus protection for such attacks. Users of Comodo Securebox are protected because it comes with its own built-in certificate store. Comodo technology is designed to protect you from threats that not even been identified yet.

However, the simple solution for Lenovo users is to simply uninstall SuperFish and the associated CA certificate. Uninstall any software that includes the Komodia Redirector and SSL Digestor libraries. In the case of Lenovo PCs, this includes Superfish Visual Discovery.

Simply uninstalling the software does not remove the certificate. In the case of Superfish Visual Discovery, the offending trusted root certification authority certificate is issued to “Superfish, Inc.”

A. Uninstall Superfish
1. Go to the Windows Control
2. Select Programs and Features
3. Locate Superfish Inc Visual Discovery and right click
4. Select Uninstall
5. When prompted, enter your administrator password.

When complete, go to part B to uninstall the root certificate.
Uninstalling the software is not enough because the uninstall does not remove the root certificate.

B. Remove the certificate
1. Open the Windows Start menu or Start screen and search for certmgr.msc.
2. Right-click it and select Launch as Administrator.
3. Click Trusted Root Certification Authorities and open Certificates.
4. Locate the Superfish, Inc. certificate.
5. Right-click it and select Delete.

Note: You must be logged in as Administrator.