What is Privdog Adware and How to Fully Remove It

Privdog is an adware program developed by Adtrustmedia that promises to provide “safer, faster and more private web browsing” by replacing potentially malicious ads on websites with ads from trusted sources. However, some versions of Privdog have been found to compromise users’ security and privacy.

What Does Privdog Do?

Here are some key things to know about what Privdog does:

  • It blocks ads from third-party networks and replaces them with ads from Adtrustmedia’s own ad network which have supposedly been vetted to be safe and non-malicious.
  • It promises faster browsing speeds by not allowing ads to set tracking cookies or download software.
  • It aims to increase privacy by reducing cookies and trackers.
  • Some versions install a root certificate on the user’s system and act as a man-in-the-middle proxy, intercepting and decrypting HTTPS traffic in order to insert ads.

The Controversy Around Privdog

When Privdog acts as a man-in-the-middle proxy for HTTPS traffic, it opens up security vulnerabilities:

  • It does not properly validate the original certificates from websites, meaning it can accept invalid certificates without triggering browser warnings. This destroys the trust provided by SSL/TLS certificates.
  • Attackers could exploit this to launch man-in-the-middle attacks and trick users into trusting malicious sites.
  • Users believe their communications are secure when in fact Privdog has decrypted them and left them open to attack.

Researchers have described Privdog as “worse than Superfish” in terms of the security risks it poses. Superfish was another ad-injecting software that caused security issues when pre-installed on Lenovo laptops.

How Did Privdog Get on My Computer?

There are a few ways Privdog could have gotten installed:

  • It was pre-installed on some computers shipped by manufacturers
  • It was bundled with other free software downloads such as browsers or security tools, installing itself without the user’s knowledge
  • Some versions are available as standalone downloads from the Privdog website

How to Fully Remove Privdog

If you have Privdog installed and want to remove it, here are the steps:

1. Uninstall Through Control Panel

  • Open Control Panel > Uninstall a Program
  • Locate and uninstall any entries related to “Privdog”
  • Follow prompts to complete uninstall

2. Download and Run Security Tool

  • Download and run a security tool like Malwarebytes to scan for and remove any remnants of Privdog
  • Reboot computer after removal

3. Reset Browser Settings

  • Browser settings like homepage might have been changed, so reset them to defaults
  • Also check for any unknown extensions installed and remove them

4. Use Antivirus and Other Security Tools

  • Run a full antivirus scan to check for other potential threats
  • Use tools like Windows Defender to verify system security after Privdog removal
  • Enable firewalls and other security layers for additional protection

Tips to Prevent Adware in the Future

Here are some tips to avoid adware threats like Privdog in the future:

  • Be very careful when downloading free software. Only download from official stores or trusted sites.
  • Always read disclosures and uncheck pre-checked boxes during installations.
  • Use a reputable internet security suite with real-time protection.
  • Don’t click on pop-up ads or install software from them.
  • Keep all software updated since outdated programs are more vulnerable.
  • Back up data regularly in case adware or other threats impact your system.

Staying vigilant is key to preventing nuisance adware programs like Privdog from impacting computer security and performance. Following best practices for internet safety and installing security tools can help block and remove adware.


[1] https://www.pcworld.com/article/432023/secure-advertising-tool-privdog-compromises-https-security.html

[2] https://technical-tips.com/blog/safety/privdog-removal–so-get-8038

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/does-privdog-protect-privacy-violating-ohad-greenshpan?trk=public_profile_article_view

[4] https://www.semrush.com/blog/seo-writing/

[5] https://news.sophos.com/en-us/2015/03/02/anatomy-of-a-certificate-problem-comodos-privdog-software-in-the-spotlight/