Social Search browser hijacker removal instructions
What is Social Search?
Social Search is an application which is designed to operate as a browser hijacker, it changes certain browser's settings to socialsearch.com - an address of a search engine which displays results generated by ask.com. It is common that users download and/or install such apps unintentionally, for this reason they are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).
After installation Social Search changes address of a homepage, default search engine and new tab to socialsearch.com. It means that its users visit this address when they open a browser, new tab and enter search queries. Socialsearch.com is a search engine which provides results generated by Ask search engine (ask.com). It is worthwhile to mention that apps that are designed to change the aforementioned browser's settings/promote search engines (often fake ones) do not allow users to modify those settings (change the assigned address into another, preferred one) and the only way to do that is to uninstall those apps. It is likely that the same applies to Social Search as well. Furthermore, quite often apps of this type are designed to gather information related to user's browsing activities. For example, addresses of visited pages, entered search queries, geolocations, IP addresses, or other browsing data. Moreover, in some cases they can read personal, sensitive information as well. There is always a possibility that their developers could misuse gathered data to generate revenue by selling it to third parties (potentially cyber criminals) or in some other ways. Therefore, apps that are classified as browser hijackers should not be trusted - their users may become victims of identity theft, experience problems related to browsing safety, online privacy, and/or some other problems.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||Social Search|
|Supposed Functionality||This app supposed to improve web browsing experience|
|Serving IP Address (socialsearch.com)||18.104.22.168|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine|
|Symptoms||Manipulated Internet browser settings (homepage, default Internet search engine, new tab settings). Users are forced to visit the hijacker's website and search the Internet using their search engines.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.|
|Damage||Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
Some examples of apps that are classified as browser hijackers are Template Creator Tab, Get Online Recipes and Secured Search. Typically, they are designed to promote some fake search engine and collect certain data. Also, developers advertise them as useful, legitimate apps that supposed to improve browsing experience, include various features, etc. Although, more often than not browser hijackers are useless and can be the culprit of various issues.
How did Social Search install on my computer?
In most cases users download and install browser hijackers and other PUAs unknowingly. Sometimes it happens when they click certain deceptive advertisements. However, more often than it happens when they download and/or install programs that have PUAs included in their setups as additional offers. This distribution method is called "bundling". As a rule, information additionally included apps is not disclosed properly, it can be found in setup's settings like "Custom", "Advanced". The problem is that users often do not check those settings, they leave them unchanged. When they leave default setup's settings unchanged, they often agree with offers to download and/or install included apps as well. Downloads, installations through advertisements happen only when users click ads that are designed to execute certain scripts.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is recommended to download files, programs only from official websites and use direct links for that. Peer-to-Peer networks (like eMule, torrent clients), unofficial websites, third party downloaders (and installers), and other channels can be used to distribute potentially unwanted (or even malicious) files, programs. Therefore, they should not be trusted. Also, it is important not to leave "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar options of any download and/or installation setup unchecked. In other words, not to allow for included PUAs to be downloaded and/or installed together with a desired software. One more way to avoid unwanted downloads, installations is not to click intrusive advertisements that are displayed on questionable pages. They often either open other untrustworthy websites or cause downloads and/or installations of unwanted apps. If there are any unwanted, suspicious, unknown extensions, add-ons and plug-ins installed on a browser and/o programs of this kind that installed on the operating system, then they should be uninstalled as soon as possible. If your computer is already infected with Social Search, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Socialsearch.com displays results generated by Ask (GIF):
Website promoting Social Search browser hijacker:
Notification saying that Social Search can read and change certain data:
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Social Search?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Social Search application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove socialsearch.com redirect from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove Social Search browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove socialsearch.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove socialsearch.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Social Search browser hijacker removal:
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
Windows XP users:
Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.
Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:
Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.
Mac OSX users:
Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.
In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "Social Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the socialsearch.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Social Search browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://socialsearch.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer. You can also enter about: blank to open a blank page when you start Internet Explorer.
Change your default search engine:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". In the opened window, select "Search Providers", set "Google", "Bing", or any other preferred search engine as your default and then remove "Social Search".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the socialsearch.com redirect, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.
Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "Social Search" (or "Social Search Extension") and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "Social Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.socialsearch.com) below the “Open a specific or set of pages” option. If present click on the three vertical dots icon and select “Remove”.
Change your default search engine:
To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for "socialsearch.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the socialsearch.com redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "Social Search" (or "Social Search Extension"), as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "Social Search" (or "Social Search Extension"), remove hxxp://socialsearch.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.
Change your default search engine:
In the URL address bar, type about:config and press Enter.
Click "I'll be careful, I promise!".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled"
Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the button.
Computer users who have problems with socialsearch.com redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
In the preferences window select General tab and make sure that your homepage is set to a preferred URL, if its altered by a browser hijacker - change it.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate any recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.
Change your homepage and new tab settings:
Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section look for the name of the browser hijacker and click "Disable".
Change your default Internet search engine:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Privacy and services", scroll to bottom of the page and select "Address bar". In the "Search engines used in address bar" section look for the name of the unwanted Internet search engine, when located click the "Disable" button near it. Alternatively you can click on "Manage search engines", in the opened menu look for unwanted Internet search engine. Click on the puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the socialsearch.com redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A browser hijacker is a type of adware infection that modifies Internet browser settings by assigning the homepage and default Internet search engine settings to some other (unwanted) website URL. Commonly, this type of adware infiltrates operating systems through free software downloads. If your download is managed by a download client, ensure that you decline offers to install advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine settings.
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove socialsearch.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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