At Opera, we take security very seriously.

It has come to our attention that unsecure and malicious ads have been popping up in the Opera Mini and Opera for Android mobile browsers for some time.

We continuously receive reports about these ads from users of Opera Mini and Opera for Android — via our social-media channels and bug-reporting system, as well as in our Google Play reviews.

UC browser virus fake advert Google Play report
These deceptive, intrusive, malicious ads and pop-ups appear in webpages while you are browsing. They come in many forms, but always feature a download link or a download button – which takes you to UC Browser.

Other times, these malicious “ads” fill your screen with warning messages that Opera Mini is unsafe, with a call-to-action to click an external link that, again, leads to a UC Browser download
.

UC browser virus fake advert screenshot in Opera Mini
These unsecure webpages can even be as ridiculous as telling you that you have less than five minutes to click a link to save your phone from damage.

UC browser virus fake advert warning Google

When we opened this particular ad on our devices, it was accompanied by intense vibrating and sudden loud noises, making for a very negative and uncomfortable experience.

At Opera, we play clean. We do not hijack others’ properties in an attempt to trick people into downloading our browsers and apps. We work to bring a safe internet experience to all.

So far, we have seen no action from the UC Browser team to remove these unethical webpages.

If an external group outside the official UC Browser team is activating these unsecure webpages, without its knowledge, then the UC Browser team is obliged to report the pages to Google and then do the best it can to pull them down. After all, this also ruins the UC Browser brand by association with such tactics.

We will not just stand by and let people smear our products and scare our users. We will continue talking to Google about this situation, and we are calling on UC Browser for its help in stopping these malicious ads.

Let’s keep the web a fair and an enjoyable place to be.

 

Update 17/3/2016:

Good news! Since publishing this blog post, UC Browser got in touch with us and clarified that third-party publishers are responsible for these ads. We understand this is not just an Opera/UC issue but rather an app industry issue.

UC and Opera will work together to stop these kinds of malicious ads.

Here’s what Ben Jiang, from International Affairs at UC Browser, had to say:

“We recently noticed that some unscrupulous marketing publishers are using scareware to drive traffic to our apps.

This is against our policies. We strongly urge users to report such ad links to help protect the user experience.

We want to ensure a healthy development of the app industry, and to stop these ads requires a larger participation from the industry.”

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  • Jaiba Mon

    Once I gave UC Browser a chance. While there are some features that are better on that browser (like changing my default Search Engine) there where some shady things that made me uninstall it.

    First. The browser came with an ad blocking extension, that worked somewhat well, but the browser injects their own ads, and of course these aren’t blocked.

    Second, there are elements of the new tab page that can’t be changed. I really hated that, having a site on my page that I cannot remove. A good thing about Opera is that you can have your Speed Dial clean, and make it yours, with the sites you like.

    Third one, was lack of transparency. One of the main reasons I use Opera is because the dev team makes an effort to tell their users what they do with each version.

    • Ruth_opera

      Thanks for your feedback Jaiba. I’ll be sure to pass on the comments about default search engine. I know it’s something the teams have talked about and maybe we can review it this year 🙂
      Really glad to hear you’ve had a good experience with Opera, your support means a lot!

      • Opera asked me yesterday if it could be the default search engine, it seems that feature is there now.

    • Mehedi Hasan Nahid

      I lke UC the most in my phone. But their publisher program is total junk. Speed dial is full of their ad publisher’s useless sites and these often contains embarrassing images with links.

    • Mariah

      Totally agreed. It should have been a red flag for me that the 9Apps site attached is an infected site according to my AV(Avast! Free 2016). I just removed it from my pc and from my phone. It seemed to function okay on my phone but I didn’t want to take any chances. Wow. I stick with Chrome and Opera now. Too bad Firefox crashes so much or I’d gladly add it back.

    • Kara

      I know what you mean. They need to lose 9Apps. My AV picked it up as an infected site.

  • :knight:

    Has Opera reported this to Google? The url in hte review looks like they are targeting Opera users. This might also be a fake UC Browser app, it looks like other scams that AntiMalware companies have blogged about (the screenshots look very similar to others reports)

    • Ruth_opera

      We’re in talks with Google and hope they’ll help us tackle such practices. From what we could see they lead to genuine UC Browser downloads but if they are fake then we hope we can help UC Browser identify these and remove such damaging ads.

      • I know some malware that has targeted Android devices has used real apps modified with malware, some of the screenshots you show here have the same pages others have used (some of the content is stolen right from Google’s own help or error pages)

        • Rafael Luik

          It’s not fake, I’ve seen identical ads that lead to genuine UC Browser’s Google Play Store page.

  • At Opera, we play clean.

    Opera does that by blocking ads. That funds the free web. Which also funded the free Opera few years ago. But let’s not talk about that.

    • Ruth_opera

      Opera isn’t against ads, just the ones that make a negative browsing experience. Contextual, modern and speedy ads are what’s best for users and content creators alike 🙂 We hope to help promote that

      • You are blocking simple textual Google ads. They are speedy. They are contextual. They are modern. And they are used by millions of web publishers around the world. Keep pretending to be the good guys here. I am done with Opera.

        • Ruth_opera

          Remember we’re just testing it in the Developer version with a view to promoting good ads at the forefront of our planning. That’s why there is a whitelist and the testing tools to site owners can test the affect of their own ads. However, I do understand your concern (as a blogger myself I’m subject to this) and hopefully we can prove it to you in the future. Appreciate your feedback

      • Bullcrap.

        Any ad that “tracks” the user is going to be wrong most of the time – so stop allowing ads that are being generated by an algorithm that gets ads wrong MOST of the time and puts some very nasty ones right in your face.

    • TomEver

      Opera doesn’t block ads by default. You need to enable the blocking in the prefs. Also, it’s a dev/test version.

    • Annonymous

      Yeah, no. That’s a cute a fallacy, though.

      Ads do not pay-per view, they pay-per click (and in some instances, they pay-per sell or subscription) so unless you go around clicking ads, the website isn’t going to get anything from you and you’re just wasting everybody’s time and money.

      Here’s the thing: users shouldn’t be asked to endure ads that are deceiving, loud, obnoxious and/or track them around. Websites should find another way of monetizing their content or use non-intrusive ads.

  • AleksOD

    Once Opera is sold to the Chinese, it may utilize a similar marketing strategy as the Chinese UC Browser. KEEP OPERA NORWEGIAN!

    • Ruth_opera

      If our owners ever change we’ll still keep our Norwegian identity and views on web fairness. It’s what makes Opera the browser the successful browser it is 🙂

      • daniel55

        I hope so.
        Anyway, UC browser has had serious security issues that they have yet addressed in a long while. Here’s one sample: http://phys.org/news/2016-02-privacy-problems-popular-baidu-browser.html

        • Ruth_opera

          Ouch 🙁 hope they can earn back the trust of the community soon. Appreciate your questions and support by the way

        • Jaiba Mon

          As today, UC Browser for PC is still using Chrome 44. Ouch!

          • Artex

            You are wrong, they are using chrome 48

        • Artex

          Baidu and UC are completly different companies. And I wouldnt call it a serious security issue. They only named one issue in that article for UCweb

    • Shalryn

      As far as I’m concerned, “Made in China” means it can’t be trusted. If Opera stays Norwegian, it’s my browser of choice both on my computer and my smartphone. If it ever sells out to China, even if it keeps its Norwegian identity, I’m out.

  • These ads are deceitful, but are they really malicious? Installing the UC Browser per se does not hurt the user.

    • Ruth_opera

      Very true, but telling someone they are at risk and using such scare tactics is pretty low and hurtful to the users. Lots of companies use sneaky tactics to promote their products but making people feel alarmed and insecure just to do so is what makes me feel it’s malicious

    • TomEver

      It doesn’t? How do you know? If the company is willing to do this, what are they willing to do with their actual product?

      • I guess, they collect their users’ browsing habits and other sensitive information, but then, websites do that as well, so I don’t consider it worse. Even major browsers like Chrome and Edge cannot be fully trusted. They’re all pretty much the same to me in that regard (in that, they probably collect information in ways you’re unaware of).

        Examples of practices that *are* worse are, anti-virus software that messes with the user’s HTTPS connections, and ISPs that inject ads and scripts into the websites the user visits.

  • Daniel Sorin

    What is Opera doing for WP? We want Opera Coast on WP.

    • Bogdan Gheorghe

      Nothing. As you could see, your comment was the only one left unanswered. That says a lot unfortunately.

      • Ruth_opera

        Apologies 😛 I wasn’t online at the time, catching up now!

        • Bogdan Gheorghe

          Ha. Well, I didn’t mean to make it sound like that. It’s just I’ve asked before and usually I see no answer what’s so ever regarding WP.

          • Ruth_opera

            No worries 😛 and sorry if your question had been missed, not intentional. We’re a small team! Appreciate your comments

    • Ruth_opera

      Hey Daniel, just focusing on security and major stability updates on Opera Mini on WP for now but we’re hoping we can put more resources in to it later this year. We’ve got Opera Coast coming to Android soon so who knows! I’ll pass on your comments

      • Daniel Sorin

        Well, i am tired of using Uc Browser on WP. You could pass along that the opera team could simply “port” the Opera Coast browser from iOS with a few teaks here and there.

  • Rey Sarmiento

    UC browser is a Chinese app browser “stealing and fake product originated “

    • Artex

      To be honest most of the chinese browsers are doing slightly better than the american browsers

      • Shalryn

        That’s because there are more Chinese people than Americans. Many people still have country-loyalty even for commercial products in China as well as elsewhere, so the numbers win.

        • Artex

          True, most of their browser look and have better features than the american ones

  • Rara

    operamini very bad, from what I know it is not the default ad uc.

  • AVR

    At Opera, we play clean.
    I never used UC browser but i currently have opera and i can say opera’s annoying me by adding obstructive web pages forcefully in my speedial, probably paid by telecom and content operators.
    While those speedial ads might not be deceitful, but it’s against the user’s will.
    I get it that you have to make money but just don’t shove it in my face.

    Please fix it because i like opera. But i wouldn’t hesitate to switch either.

    • Ruth_opera

      Really appreciate your feedback. You’re correct that they’re from our partners (that we work closely with and trust) and we try to keep it to a minimum and easy for users to manage/remove. Having said that we’re looking at ways this year to make the experience better for our users, we agree that nothing should feel shoved in your face.

    • Jaiba Mon

      With Opera, you can delete those entries, and have a clean Speed Dial. It takes you a minute.
      With UC Browser, you can’t.

  • Annonymous

    The only reason I used UC Browser is because it consumes less RAM than any other browser while still rendering stuff in the phone.

    The thing is that I found out that the browser likes to take screenshots of whatever you’re viewing, send them to who-knows where and then delete them.

    After I reported that, they just told me that it was a weird issue because they “protect privacy” or something. I’ll never again use that thing, it’s spyware.

    • How did you come to know that it takes screenshots?

      • Annonymous

        Because inside the UC Browser folder there is a tmp folder with screenshots of random websites that I was browsing but I didn’t take.

        • MAS Googler

          Are u sure that wasn’t just cached pages? Browsers can cache and prefetch in order to speed loading times

          • Annonymous

            In PNG? With the navigation, URL bar and scrolling bar?

            Those were screenshots. Some of them were even of loading, mostly blank, pages.

  • Indiakumar

    One of the best Posts from Opera.

    • Angela Wang

      Thanks Kumar we appreciate it!

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  • A.Q

    I don’t use Opera just because it doesn’t crash, neither do I simply because it is fast, compatible and intelligent. It is more than just that. Even being made by a for-profit company, Opera doesn’t play foul. Also, they even manage to achieve the goal of digital inclusion better than the non-profit Mozilla Foundation by still maintaining versions for feature phones, which are the most popular way of accessing the web in many places. Opera is more than a mere browser.

  • Pavel Ni

    “We recently noticed that some unscrupulous marketing publishers are using scareware to drive traffic to our apps.”

    Of course, they are talking about the company to whom they wholely outsourced UCB development, and it’s a Russian business.

    Mr. Jiang lies

  • NDpendent

    I too used UC browser. It was faster by far than any other browser Ive tried on Android. . I liked the ability to change screen to night view. But like many others I just could not see sharing my browsing history with some Chinese commercial entity. BTW Im pretty sure I picked up the scareware URL from Fuzzy Vodka site which I clicked on thru an Indy500 info page. Wish I could block that site. (us.jobs-apps.xyz)

  • Kara

    Wow. They really made UC Browser look bad for a minute. I replaced UC with Firefox 46. Not because I was having issues like the ones mentioned above, but there were a few issues with it hanging a lot and I just missed Firefox’s wonderful interface. UC is great, but from now on I’ll be sticking with the big 3, Chrome, Opera and Firefox. By the way Mozilla, awesome job with Firefox 46. Thanks for making it the awesome browser it was always meant to be. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  • “We recently noticed that some unscrupulous marketing publishers are using scareware to drive traffic to our apps”

    I don’t believe that! I think there’s no ad related to a product that is not under control of its manufacturer. They said the culprits are some unscrupulous marketing publishers. Then who are they? And even though they’re unscrupulous what makes them willing to do so? In my opinion UC paid them!!

  • Shabbir Khan

    Opera is very good browser! but please do not go similar to uc scrap.
    as publisher earn with ads. atleast you should not block Adsense and similar good company ads.
    Browser owner should understand that they should show what is kept on web.
    you are not suppose to make change what content to show and what to not.
    yes giving this option is good. but give ad block option for popup ads+full screen ads.

    Otherwise how will publisher get income? and if publisher will not earn, then many internet sites will go disappear after some time. and then how will browser get users?

    Chinese will not understand this long term policy.

  • LissaKay

    What is UC Browser? I have no such app on my phone, I use Opera, but I am getting these weird pages opening when browsing, saying my phone is infected with viruses. I can’t back out of the page, back to where I was, it then opens Google Play Store on a AntiVirus app.

  • Missy C

    Thanks for the article. This gives me more confidence in UC Browser. I’ve added it back on my PC. It’s truly one of the best and fastest around. My big 3 is now Opera, Chrome and UC Browser. There’s a lot of speculation as to wether UC is a safe browser or not, but it hasn’t caused me any issues. I’m content with it. 🙂