Our researchers have recently analyzed a malicious toolbar called EasyDocMerge Toolbar, which we encouraged users to remove, but, to our surprise, the malware developer Mindspark released a very similar application called MergeDocsOnline Toolbar. Basically, the application contains everything that the previous one had, but we still have an obligation to provide a separate article for it, so that unfamiliar users could know what they are dealing with. Our researchers recommend that you remove this toolbar at your earliest convenience, because they have observed some malicious traits that are going to be discussed in more detail here.
We mentioned the malware developer, called Mindspark. We have heard that the company has created a couple of good desktop applications, but its toolbars are all worthy of the recycling bin. Just like EasyDocMerge Toolbar, and all other Mindspark toolbars, for that matter, MergeDocsOnline Toolbar is distributed using software bundles and a download website. The software bundles that include MergeDocsOnline Toolbar are usually legitimate applications that are distributed using shareware websites. The download website is called Mergedocsonline.com. The website puts a huge emphasis on the conversion of PDF files, which is its main selling point.
However, MergeDocsOnline Toolbar itself contains a few more functions that need to be explored in greater detail. The toolbar consists of six sections. The first tab is a link to a website that combines multiple PDF files into one. The website has been created and administered by Mindspark. The second one allows you to send large files with the aid of email as a means of authentication on websites that are dedicated for this purpose (e.g. Wetransfer.com, mailbigfile.com). A URL may also be used to send files via websites, such as Ge.tt, Files.com, Senduit.com, and many others. The third tab is a link to a website called Docspal.com, which allows users to convert documents, media files, and archives from and to a huge variety of formats. The fourth tab is an app that allows users to convert pictures and images to PNG, JPG, BMP, and other formats. The fifth section, called Language Tools, contains links to Dictionary.com-owned websites. And the developers added a link to Facebook in the sixth section just for good measure.
Apart from the PDF conversion tool, all of the functions are just links to third party websites. And it is likely that the owners of those websites have no idea that the websites are being included in the MergeDocsOnline Toolbar. But that is not the problem here. The real problem lies in the fact that upon installation the setup changes the default homepage and search provider to a custom version of Ask.com which is administered by Mindspark. By using the website Home.tb.ask.com, you agree to use Mindspark’s cookies. The cookies are used to track traffic flow and collect information about the users, such as geographical location, search, browsing history, and other information that is used to personalize the search result, and which may include unreliable websites that are Mindsparks partners.
MergeDocsOnline Toolbar seems like a good solution for converting various files, but the homepage is a deal-breaker here. Besides, you can find better converters and make custom bookmarks yourself, and the same can be said about the file sharing websites. This toolbar is bad, so you should remove as soon as possible. We also recommend scanning your computer for malicious content, just to be on the safe side.
Windows 8 & Windows 8.1
Windows Vista & Windows 7