Lenovo secretly installed a program called Superfish on all of its consumer laptops between October and December 2014, the company has admitted. The revelation has prompted fierce criticism from security experts and consumer watchdog groups, because Superfish allows advertisers and hackers to intercept and spoof sensitive data, including anything from bank statements to emails.
To check if you have Superfish on your machine, go here. If your machine is running Superfish, you’ll see right away. This is what it looks life if you’re safe.
Assuming you get the bad news, there are a few steps you can take.
Your best bet is to reinstall Windows, ideally from a non-Lenovo source, to wipe away all traces of the adware product. For information about reinstalling Windows, click here. Information about reinstalling Windows 8 can be found here.
The major downside to reinstalling Windows is that you’ll be wiping clean all of your documents and applications. If you go this route, back up everything important to an external drive before you begin. The upside to starting fresh is that you’ll clear away not only spyware like Superfish, but also a ton of other problematic “bloatware” that builds up over time like plaque on your teeth.
Users who have tried manually uninstalling just Superfish report that their attempts were unsuccessful. If you don’t want to start fresh, we recommend an easier (but not as reliable) option: Install an anti-malware program the developers of which have specifically promised that it can remove Superfish.
One such program is HitmanPro, which is free for 30 days.
After installing and running HitmanPro, its developers claim you should be good to go. The last thing you’ll want to do is make a note to never buy a Lenovo laptop again.
Illustration via Max Fleishman