Direct Search browser hijacker removal instructions
What is Direct Search?
Browser hijackers promote fake search engines (their addresses) by changing the settings of a hijacked browser. Direct Search promotes the search-direct.net address. It also adds the "Managed by your organization" feature to Chrome browsers. This app is virtually identical to another browser hijacker called Storm Search. It is uncommon for apps of this type to be downloaded and installed on purpose. For this reason, they are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs). It is noteworthy that Direct Search collects browsing-related information.
Users who have their browsers hijacked by apps like Direct Search are forced to visit a specific address each time they open a browser, new tab, or enter search queries into the URL. It is because browser hijackers change settings such as the address of the homepage, new tab, and default search engine. Direct Search changes those addresses/settings to search-direct.net, a fake search engine that shows results from Google (it redirects users to google.com). Search engines that show results generated by other search engines are useless. It is important to mention that browser hijackers can promote search engines that show their own results, containing links to shady pages, unwanted advertisements. Usually, all the changes made by a browser hijacker can be undone when that app is no longer installed on a browser (or the operating system). In this case, search-direct.net can be removed from settings once Direct Search is no longer installed. However, it is not the only reason to remove Direct Search.
It is likely that Direct Search collects browsing data like IP addresses, geolocations, addresses of opened web pages, entered search queries. However, there is a possibility that it can access more personal information as well. There are browser hijackers that can read passwords and other confidential data. It is not safe to have apps of this type installed on browsers or computers because their developers may monetize gathered information. For instance, they may sell it to third parties (potentially cybercriminals), use it for marketing purposes. Therefore, apps like Direct Search can be the reason behind issues like identity theft, problems with online privacy, browsing safety. It is strongly recommended not to have browsers hijackers installed.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||Direct Search|
|Supposed Functionality||Improved browsing experience|
|Detection Names||Trustwave (Malicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (search-direct.net)||22.214.171.124|
|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.
More examples of PUAs that function as browser hijackers (promote search engines) are Nok App, Tag Search, and Direct Search Online. Typically, when users download and install apps of this type on purpose, they expect these those apps to be legitimate, useful, include some features, etc. However, most browser hijackers are useless to their users and generate revenue for for their developers by promoting various websites/addresses and showing ads.
How did Direct Search install on my computer?
Potentially unwanted applications are often distributed by including them in downloaders or installers for other (mainly free) programs. This distribution method is known as "bundling". Bundled applications usually can be declined using "Custom", "Advanced", or other settings, or by unticking checkboxes that those downloaders, installers have. Users who download or install programs without checking and changing those settings agree with offers to download or install bundled applications as well. In some cases, users cause unwanted downloads or installations through deceptive ads - by clicking on ads designed to execute certain scripts.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
Check downloaders and installers for additionally included applications and decline unwanted offers before finishing downloads and installations. Do not download files or programs through third-party downloaders, unofficial websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), and other similar sources. Do not use third-party installers to install software too. Download files and programs from official pages and use direct download links. Ads appearing on untrustworthy websites (e.g., on pages relating to pornography, adult dating, gambling, etc.) can open deceptive websites, or cause unwanted downloads, installations. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to avoid clicking on such ads. Remove suspicious or unknown extensions, add-ons, or plug-ins from a browser and programs of this kind from the operating system. If your computer is already infected with Direct Search, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Search-direct.net redirects to google.com (GIF):
Screenshot of the "Managed by your organization" feature added by Direct Search:
Notification saying that Direct 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 Direct Search?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Direct Search application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Direct Search browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove search-direct.net homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove search-direct.net redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
- STEP 6. Remove search-direct.net redirect from Internet Explorer.
Direct 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, "Direct Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the search-direct.net website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Direct Search browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
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 "Direct 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 "Direct Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.search-direct.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 "search-direct.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 search-direct.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 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 "Direct 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 "Direct Search", remove hxxp://search-direct.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 search-direct.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 search-direct.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.
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://search-direct.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 "Direct Search".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the search-direct.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.
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 search-direct.net redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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