How to remove redirects to the websearches.club fake search engine
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is websearches.club?
Websearches.club is the URL (address) of an illegitimate search engine. Despite its legitimate appearance, this web searcher is unable to provide accurate search results. Fake search engines are typically promoted by browser hijackers through the modifications this software makes to browser settings.
The websearches.club web searcher has been observed being promoted by Img downloadit, Newtab, SysKey, GillCom, and other browser hijackers. Furthermore, both browser hijackers and their search engines are known to collect browsing-related information.
Due to the dubious methods used to proliferate browser hijackers, they are also classified as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
How do browser hijackers promote websearches.club?
Browser hijackers reassign browsers' homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs - to fake web searcher addresses. These alterations may seem minor and relatively easy to undo; however, they seriously affect the browsing experience.
To elaborate, with a browser hijacker promoting websearches.club installed: every new browser tab/window opened and web search done via the URL bar - redirect to websearches.club.
Most illegitimate search engines cannot generate search results, so they redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other genuine ones. While websearches.club can provide search results, they are inaccurate and may promote untrustworthy/malicious websites and content.
Browser hijackers can deny access to the browser settings and/or reset any permitted changes made. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.
What is more, most browser hijackers can track data. They can record browsing activity (visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, etc.) and gather vulnerable information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations, and personally identifiable details).
Browser hijacker developers monetize the collected data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, the presence of data-tracking software on browsers/systems - can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
To protect device integrity and user safety, all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.
|Name||websearches.club browser hijacker|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine|
|Serving IP Address||188.8.131.52|
|Symptoms||Manipulated Internet browser(s) settings (homepage, default Internet search engine, new tab settings). User's are forced to visit 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 browsing tracking (potential privacy issues), displaying of unwanted ads, redirects to shady websites.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Fake search engine and browser hijacker examples
Ctcodeinfo.com, janextupd.com, charmsearching.com, and pdfsrch.com are some examples of fake search engines, and PDFSearchTip, SportSearchMaster, VideoSearchz - of browser hijackers. Potentially unwanted applications (browser hijackers included) usually appear legitimate and harmless.
These apps entice users into download/installation with a broad range of features. Despite how useful the advertised functions may sound, they are rarely operational. The sole purpose of unwanted software is to generate revenue at user expense.
Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can hijack browsers, force-open untrustworthy and malicious sites, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collect private data.
How did websearches.club install on my computer?
Some PUAs have "official" promotional/download webpages. These applications are most commonly downloaded/installed alongside other software. "Bundling" is the name of this deceptive marketing technique - pre-packing ordinary programs with unwanted or malicious additions.
Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., skipped steps and sections, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing budled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements are also used to spread PUAs. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is important to research software products before download/installation and/or purchase. All downloads must be performed from official and verified sources.
Untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - often offer dangerous and bundled content.
When downloading/installing, it is recommended to read terms, study possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, features, and other additions.
Intrusive adverts look legitimate and innocuous; however, they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., pornography, adult-dating, gambling, and so forth).
In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be checked and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it.
If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate it.
Websearches.club promoting Img downloadit browser hijacker asking permission to track data:
Website used to promote Img downloadit browser hijacker:
Appearance of Img downloadit browser hijacker redirecting (via fxsmash.xyz) to the websearches.club fake search engine (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is websearches.club?
- STEP 1. Uninstall unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove websearches.club browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove websearches.club homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove websearches.club redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
- STEP 6. Remove websearches.club redirect from Internet Explorer.
websearches.club redirect removal:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 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.
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.
macOS (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, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the websearches.club website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
websearches.club redirect 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 all 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, look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.websearches.club) 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 "websearches.club" 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 websearches.club browser hijacker, 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 all 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 remove hxxp://websearches.club 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: "websearches.club"
Right-click on the found preferences and select "Reset" to restore default values.
Computer users who have problems with websearches.club browser hijacker 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 websearches.club browser hijacker, 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://websearches.club 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 "websearches.club".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the websearches.club browser hijacker, 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users to visit websearches.club website?
Redirects to websites like websearches.club are caused as cyber criminals (i.e., developers of browser hijackers and fake search engines) generate revenue through them.
Is visiting websearches.club a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Websites like websearches.club usually collect information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are primarily distributed through deceptive promotional webpages, bundled program installers, online scams, freeware and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, intrusive ads, and spam browser notifications.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove browser hijackers?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can scan devices and eliminate detected browser-hijacking applications. It is noteworthy that manual removal (performed without the aid of security software) might be ineffective. In cases where multiple browser hijackers are present, after one is removed - the others may simply re-install it. Furthermore, browser-hijacking software might prevent access to removal-related settings and/or undo user-made changes. Therefore, it is paramount to eliminate browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.
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