How to remove the SearchGuard — Smart Search browser hijacker?

Also Known As: searchwarden.com redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

SearchGuard — Smart Search browser hijacker removal instructions

What is SearchGuard — Smart Search?

SearchGuard — Smart Search is designed to change some of the browser's settings to searchwarden.com, an address of a fake search engine. It is likely that this app is designed to collect browsing data and/or other information as well. It is common for browser hijackers to be downloaded and installed by users unknowingly, therefore, SearchGuard — Smart Search and other apps of this type are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

searchwarden.com browser hijacker

SearchGuard — Smart Search modifies browser's settings such as the address of a default search engine, homepage and new tab. It changes them to searchwarden.com. Therefore, when users of the SearchGuard — Smart Search app enter search queries into URL bar, open a browser and/or new tab, this app opens the searchwarden.com address. Depending on the geolocation of its users/visitors, searchwarden.com redirects them to google.com or bing.com. It displays results generated by Google or Bing. That is reason why searchwarden.com is called a fake search engine.

Typically, users cannot remove the address that the installed browser hijacker is designed to promote as long as that app is installed. Although, it is not the only reason to uninstall any installed browser hijacker. Quite often apps of this type are designed to gathers browsing-related information. For example, IP addresses, geolocations, addresses of visited pages, entered search queries. In some cases they are designed to collect sensitive details as well. Gathered information could be monetized by selling it to third parties (potentially cyber criminals), or in some other ways. Therefore, browser hijackers are a threat to online privacy, browsing safety.

Threat Summary:
Name SearchGuard — Smart Search
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab
Browser Extension(s) SearchGuard — Smart Search
Supposed Functionality Improved browsing experience
Promoted URL searchwarden.com
Serving IP Address (searchwarden.com) 172.67.146.164
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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To sum up, browser hijackers are designed to promote certain addresses and are likely to be designed to gather various data. More examples of browser hijackers are Easy Searching App, GameSearchMedia and 4KMovieSearch. Typically, they are advertised as useful, legitimate, however, in most cases users download and install them unintentionally.

How did SearchGuard — Smart Search install on my computer?

It is common that users download and/or install PUAs when leave "Advanced", "Custom" or other settings that are available in download and/or installation setups unchanged. In other words, when users download and/or install programs without declining offers to download and/or install additionally included apps. This distribution method for PUAs is called "bundling". In some cases users cause such downloads and/or installations by clicking deceptive ads that are designed to execute certain scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is advised not to use third party downloaders (or installers), Peer-to-Peer networks like torrent clients, eMule, from unofficial pages, etc. Software (and files) should be downloaded from official pages and via direct download links. Also, it is not recommended to finish downloads and installations without checking setups for offers to download and/or install unwanted apps. Intrusive ads that appear on untrustworthy websites should not be clicked as well: they can be designed to download and/or install some PUAs of simply open untrustworthy pages. Additionally, there should not be any unwanted, suspicious plug-ins, extensions and/or add-ons installed on a browser or programs of this kind installed on a computer. If your computer is already infected with SearchGuard — Smart Search, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

Searchwarden.com redirects to google.com (GIF):

searchguard smart search browser hijacker searchwarden.com redirects to google.com

Searchwarden.com redirects to bing.com (GIF):

searchguard smart search browser hijacker searchwarden.com redirects to bing.com

Website promoting SearchGuard — Smart Search browser hijacker:

Website used to promote SearchGuard — Smart Search browser hijacker

Notification saying that SearchGuard — Smart Search can change search settings to api.searchwarden.com:

searchguard smart search browser hijacker notification

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Quick menu:

SearchGuard — Smart 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.

searchwarden.com browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

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

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the searchwarden.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

SearchGuard — Smart Search browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "SearchGuard — Smart Search" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "SearchGuard — Smart Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.searchwarden.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:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "searchwarden.com", 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 searchwarden.com 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 plugins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "SearchGuard — Smart Search", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.

Change your homepage:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "SearchGuard — Smart Search", remove hxxp://searchwarden.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 searchwarden.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, 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 searchwarden.com 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.

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 searchwarden.com 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://searchwarden.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:

Removing searchwarden.com 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 "SearchGuard — Smart Search".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the searchwarden.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.

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

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 searchwarden.com 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.

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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
searchwarden.com 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 searchwarden.com redirect on your mobile device.
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