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SpySheriff interface
Common nameSpySheriff
Technical name
  • SpySheriff Variant
    • Adware.SpySheriff (Symantec)
    • Rogue:W32/SpySheriff(F-Secure)
    • Adware/SpySheriff.[Letter](Fortiguard) [1]
    • Adware-SpySheriff(McAfee)
    • ADW_SPYSHERIFF.[Letter] (Trend Micro)
  • BraveSentry Variant
    • Rogue:W32/BraveSentry (F-Secure) [2]
    • VBS_SENTRY.[Letter] (Trend Micro)
    • ADW_BRAVESEN.[Letter] (Trend Micro)
  • Pest Trap Variant
  • SpyDawn Variant
  • Alpha Cleaner Variant
  • SpyBouncer Variant
    • Trojan:Win32/Spybouncer (Microsoft)
SubtypeRogue Software
Author(s)Innovagest 2000
Operating system(s) affectedWindows

SpySheriff[a] is malware that disguises itself as anti-spyware software. It attempts to mislead the user with false security alerts, threatening them into buying the program.[4] Like other rogue antiviruses, after producing a list of false threats, it prompts the user to pay to remove them. The software is particularly difficult to remove,[5][self-published source] since it nests its components in System Restore folders, and also blocks some system management tools. However, SpySheriff can be removed by an experienced user, antivirus software, or by using a rescue disk.


SpySheriff was hosted at both www.spysheriff.com and www.spy-sheriff.com,[6][self-published source] which operated from 2005 until their shutdown in 2008.[citation needed] Both domains are now parked. Several other similarly-named websites also hosted the program but have all been shut down.

Features of a SpySheriff infection[edit]

A fake infection warning pop-up
  • SpySheriff is designed to behave like genuine antispyware software. Its user interface features a progress bar and counts allegedly found threats, but its scan results are deliberately false, with cryptic names such as "Trojan VX …" to mislead and scare the user.[7][8]
  • Removal attempts may be unsuccessful and SpySheriff may reinstall itself.[citation needed]
  • The desktop background may be replaced with an image resembling a Blue Screen of Death, or a notice reading, "SPYWARE INFECTION! Your system is infected with spyware. Windows recommends that you use a spyware removal tool to prevent loss of data. Using this PC before having it cleaned of spyware threats is highly discouraged."[citation needed]
  • Attempts to remove SpySheriff via Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel either fails or causes the computer to restart unexpectedly.[9]
  • Attempts to connect to the Internet in any Web browser is blocked by SpySheriff. Spy-Sheriff.com becomes the only accessible website, and can be opened through the program's control panel.[citation needed]
  • Attempts to remove SpySheriff via System Restore are blocked as it prevents the calendar and restore points from loading. Users can overcome this by undoing the previous restore operation, after which the system will restore itself, allowing for easier removal of SpySheriff.[9]
  • SpySheriff can detect certain antispyware and antivirus programs running on the machine, and disable them by ending their processes as soon as it detects them. This may prevent its detection and removal by legitimate antivirus programs.[citation needed]
  • SpySheriff can disable Task Manager and Registry Editor, preventing the user from ending its active process or removing its registry entries from Windows. Renaming the 'regedit' and 'taskmgr' executables will solve this problem.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also known by numerous other names, including BraveSentry, Pest Trap, SpyTrooper, Adware Sheriff, SpywareNo, SpyLocked, SpywareQuake, SpyDawn, AntiVirGear, SpyDemolisher, System Security, SpywareStrike, SpyShredder, Alpha Cleaner, SpyMarshal, Adware Alert, Malware Stopper, Mr. Antispy, Spycrush, SpyAxe, MalwareAlarm, VirusBurst, VirusBursters, DIARemover, AntiVirus Gold, Antivirus Golden, SpyFalcon, and TheSpyBot/SpywareBot. The name SpywareBot is used to confuse them with the legitimate SpyBot anti-spyware software.


  1. ^ "Fortiguard". 2005-09-21. Archived from the original on 2022-08-19. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  2. ^ "Rogue:W32/BraveSentry Description". F-Secure Labs. Archived from the original on 2023-05-21. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  3. ^ "SpyDawn - Adware and PUAs". sophos.com. Archived from the original on 2021-08-28. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  4. ^ "Spyware tunnels in on Winamp flaw". Joris Evers, CNET News.com, February 6, 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  5. ^ "Top 10 rogue anti-spyware". Suze Turner, ZDNet, December 19, 2005. Archived from the original on 19 January 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  6. ^ "SunBelt Security Blog". Sunbelt Security. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  7. ^ "SpySheriff Technical Details". Symantec. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  8. ^ Vincentas (18 October 2012). "spysheriff.exe in SpyWareLoop.com". Spyware Loop. Archived from the original on 2016-01-18. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  9. ^ a b "SpySheriff – CA". CA. Archived from the original on April 5, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-01.

External links[edit]