Flare Search browser hijacker removal instructions
What is Flare Search browser hijacker?
Flare Search is a browser hijacker. Following successful infiltration, it makes modifications to browser settings to promote a fake search engine. Flare Search promotes flaresearch.net in this way. This software also adds the "Managed by your organization" feature to Google Chrome browsers, for the purpose of ensuring persistence (i.e. complicating removal). Flare Search also has data tracking capabilities, which are employed to monitor users' browsing activity. Due to the dubious methods used to spread Flare Search, it is classified as a Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA).
Popular browsers with large user bases such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explore are common targets of browser hijackers. They reassign the homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs to the addresses of bogus search engines. Flare Search also makes these alterations to browsers to promote flaresearch.net. Therefore, with this software installed, new browser tabs/windows opened and search queries typed into the URL bar redirect to flaresearch.net. Fake search engines are useless, as they are seldom capable of providing search results, and even if they can, the results are inaccurate and/or promote untrusted/malicious websites. In the former cases, the web search engines promoted by browser hijackers redirect to Yahoo, Google, Bing and other legitimate search engines - flaresearch.net is no exception to this, and simply redirects to Google. Furthermore, access to browser settings can be restricted/denied and any permitted changes made, automatically undone by the browser hijacker. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible, unless the software affecting it is removed. Furthermore, Flare Search can track data. It can record browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and gather personal information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This vulnerable data is typically shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals), seeking to likewise misuse it for profit. To summarize, the presence of data-tracking content on devices can lead to financial loss, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. To protect browser/system integrity and user safety, remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab.|
|Browser Extension(s)||Flare Search, Flare|
|Serving IP Address (flaresearch.net)||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.
DPS Websafe, Weather Discover, Vista Search and Track Package Tab are some examples of other browser hijackers. They may seem legitimate and innocuous and users are often enticed into download/installation with offers of a wide variety of "useful" functionality, however, these features are rarely operational. In fact, this applies to most PUAs, regardless of type. The only purpose of these unwanted apps is to generate revenue for the developers. Regular users receive no real value and can instead experience serious issues. PUAs hijack browsers, cause redirects to dubious and malicious web pages, run intrusive advertisement campaigns and collect sensitive information.
How did Flare Search install on my computer?
PUAs are distributed via the download/installation set-ups of other programs. "Bundling" is the term used to define this deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing normal software with unwanted or malicious additions. Rushing downloads/installations (e.g. skimming or ignoring terms, skipping steps, using pre-set options, etc.) increases the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Once clicked, they can execute scripts to download/install these rogue apps without users' permission. Note that some PUAs have "official" download sites.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications
You are advised to research all software before download/installation. All downloads must be done from official and trustworthy sources. Dubious sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders commonly offer deceptive and bundled content, and should therefore be avoided. When downloading/installing, it is important to read the terms, study all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of supplementary applications, tools, features and other additions. Intrusive ads may seem legitimate and harmless, however, they can redirect to highly dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on). If you encounter these ads or redirects, inspect the system and immediately remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Flare Search, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Flare Search browser hijacker asking for various permissions:
Appearance of Flare Search browser hijacker (GIF):
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 Flare Search?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Flare Search application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove flaresearch.net redirect from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove Flare Search browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove flaresearch.net homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove flaresearch.net redirect from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Flare 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, "Flare Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications that cause browser redirects to the flaresearch.net website, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Flare 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://flaresearch.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:
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 "Flare Search".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the flaresearch.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.
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 "Flare Search" 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 "Flare Search" (or simply "Flare"), look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.flaresearch.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:
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 "flaresearch.net", 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 flaresearch.net 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 plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "Flare Search", 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 "Flare Search", remove hxxp://flaresearch.net 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 flaresearch.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, 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 flaresearch.net 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 flaresearch.net redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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