Remove the Storm Search browser hijacker

Also Known As: stormsearch.net redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Storm Search browser hijacker removal instructions

What is Storm Search?

Storm Search is a typical browser hijacker that changes certain browser settings to stormsearch.net. Its main purpose is to hijack browsers whilst also promoting a fake search engine. Storm Search also adds the "Managed by your organization" feature to Chrome browsers, and therefore removal becomes more complicated. Additionally, apps of this type gather browsing data and other information. In most cases users do not download or install these apps intentionally. Therefore, Storm Search and other browser hijackers are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

stormsearch.net browser hijacker

After installation, Storm Search sets the address of the homepage, default search engine and new tab to stormsearch.net. In this way, it forces users to visit this address when they open a browser, new tab, or enter search queries into the URL bar. Note that stormsearch.net redirects users to search.yahoo.com or google.com, thus displaying results generated by Yahoo or Google. Therefore, as a search engine, stormsearch.net is useless and redundant. To remove this address from browser settings, you must first uninstall Storm Search, since these apps prevent users from changing/undoing settings that are assigned by them. Furthermore, apps such as Storm Search collect browsing data (e.g., entered search queries, addresses of visited pages, IP addresses, geolocations). The information could be used to generate revenue by selling it to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) or in other ways. Furthermore, browser hijackers can collect browsing data and private, sensitive information. Users of Storm Search might then experience problems relating to browsing safety, online privacy, or even become victims of identity theft. Remove all browser hijackers from browsers and computers and do not use fake search engines.

Threat Summary:
Name Storm Search
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab.
Browser Extension(s) Storm Search, Storm
Supposed Functionality This app supposedly improves the browsing experience.
Promoted URL stormsearch.net
Serving IP Address (stormsearch.net) 163.172.197.81
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)

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Some more examples of apps of this type are Burst Search (this one is identical to Storm Search), Remove Notifications, and StreaminSearchs. Generally, browser hijackers are advertised as useful, legitimate applications, which supposedly improve the browsing experience, include various features, etc., however, most track information and promote fake search engines - they are designed only to generate revenue for the developers.

How did Storm Search install on my computer?

In some cases, PUAs are downloaded and installed through clicked deceptive advertisements that execute certain scripts. Developers also distribute them using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". They trick users into downloading and installing PUAs with other, regular programs. Generally, PUAs are included into download/installation set-ups as 'additional offers', which can be found and declined in "Advanced", "Custom and other similar settings. Many users leave these settings unchecked and unchanged, thereby allowing PUAs to be downloaded and installed alongside software that has the rogue programs included in the set-ups.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Programs and files should be downloaded only from official pages and through direct links. Third party downloaders, installers, unofficial sites, Peer-to-Peer networks such as torrent clients, eMule, and other channels of this kind can be used to distribute unwanted, even malicious applications and files. Unwanted downloads and installations can be prevented by declining offers to download or install unwanted apps before completing the process. These offers are often listed in "Custom", "Advanced" or other settings. Do not click ads that are displayed on dubious pages, since they can cause installation of unwanted software and open untrusted web pages. Remove any suspicious, unwanted extensions, plug-ins or add-ons already installed on the browser. Also remove programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with Storm Search, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

Storm Search browser hijacker asking for various permissions:

Storm Search browser hijacker asking for permissions

Website used to promote Storm Search browser hijacker:

Storm Search browser hijacker promoting website

stormsearch.net redirects to search.yahoo.com (GIF):

stormsearch.net redirects to search.yahoo.com

stormsearch.net redirects to google.com (GIF):

stormsearch.net redirects to google.com

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Quick menu:

Storm Search browser hijacker removal:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

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:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

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:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

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.

stormsearch.net browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "Storm Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications that cause browser redirects to the stormsearch.net website, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Storm Search browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing stormsearch.net related Internet Explorer extensions

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options 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:

Removing stormsearch.net from Internet Explorer homepage

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://stormsearch.net 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:

Removing stormsearch.net from Internet Explorer default search engine

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options 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 "Storm Search".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the stormsearch.net 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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

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.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing stormsearch.net related Google Chrome extensions

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "Storm Search" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing stormsearch.net from Google Chrome homepage

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "Storm Search" (or simply "Storm"), look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.stormsearch.net) 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:

Removing stormsearch.net from Google Chrome default search engine

To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon Google 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 "stormsearch.net", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the stormsearch.net redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google 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.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing stormsearch.net related Mozilla Firefox extensions

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "Storm Search", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.

Change your homepage:

Removing stormsearch.net from Mozilla Firefox homepage

To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "Storm Search", remove hxxp://stormsearch.net and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing stormsearch.net from Mozilla Firefox 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 Mozilla Firefox switch about:config entry button button.

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with stormsearch.net redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...

removing browser hijacker from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 3 - changing homepage

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.

removing browser hijackers from safari step 4 - changing the default Internet search engine

In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 2

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 3

To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) 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 Microsoft Edge (Chromium) puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the stormsearch.net redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

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.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of browser hijackers while downloading free software sampleA 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.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove stormsearch.net redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Removal Instructions in other languages
Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
stormsearch.net redirect QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of stormsearch.net redirect on your mobile device.
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