What is Simple Word Count?
Simple Word Count is a browser hijacker promoting (through rogue redirects) the fxsmash.xyz fake search engine. Software within this classification promotes various web searchers by making modifications to browser settings.
Furthermore, Simple Word Count has data tracking abilities, which are used to spy on users' browsing activity. Since most users download/install browser hijackers unintentionally, they are also classified as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
Browser hijackers assign fake web searcher addresses as browsers' default search engine, new tab/window, and homepage URLs. These changes may appear to be relatively minor, yet they seriously affect the browsing experience.
To elaborate, with Simple Word Count installed: new browser tabs/windows opened and web searches done via the URL bar - redirect to the fxsmash.xyz search engine. Illegitimate web searchers usually cannot generate search results, so they redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other genuine search engines.
This applies to fxsmash.xyz as well; however, where it redirects to is determined by the users' geolocations. This fake search engine has been observed redirecting either to Yahoo (search.yahoo.com) or to websearches.club.
While the latter can provide search results, it is an illegitimate search engine nonetheless. The results generated by websearches.club are inaccurate and may contain untrustworthy and malicious content.
Browser hijackers can restrict/deny access to browser settings and/or undo any permitted changes made. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.
As mentioned in the introduction, Simple Word Count can track data, which is typical of browser hijackers. Targeted information includes (but is not limited to): visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, IP addresses/ geolocations, and personally identifiable details.
The collected data is then monetized by being shared with and/or sold 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 ensure device integrity and user safety, all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.
|Name||Simple Word Count|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||Simple Word Count|
|Detection Names (fxsmash.xyz)||Fortinet (Malware), alphaMountain.ai (Suspicious), Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (fxsmash.xyz)||220.127.116.11|
|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 Combo Cleaner.
However, the advertised functions are seldom operational. This is true of nearly all PUAs. The only aim of unwanted apps is to generate profit at user expense.
Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can hijack browsers, force-open unreliable and dangerous sites, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collect vulnerable information.
How did Simple Word Count install on my computer?
Some PUAs (e.g., Simple Word Count) have "official" download webpages. However, these applications are more commonly downloaded/installed together with other programs.
This deceptive marketing method of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is named "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., ignored terms, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the system.
Intrusive advertisements are also used to spread PUAs. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user permission.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is recommended to research software products prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Furthermore, all downloads must be done from official and verified sources.
Untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) websites, P2P sharing networks (Torrent clients, Gnutella, eMule, etc.), and other third-party downloaders - often offer harmful and bundled content. Download and installation processes must be treated with caution; that entails - reading terms, studying all possible options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting-out from additional apps, tools, functions, and so on.
Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and innocuous; however, they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.). In case of encounters with such ads and/or redirects, the system must be inspected and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay.
If your computer is already infected with Simple Word Count, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Website promoting Simple Word Count browser hijacker:
Appearance of fxsmash.xyz redirecting 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 Simple Word Count?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Simple Word Count application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Simple Word Count browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove fxsmash.xyz homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove fxsmash.xyz redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
- STEP 6. Remove fxsmash.xyz redirect from Internet Explorer.
Simple Word Count browser hijacker 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 (for example, "Simple Word Count"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the fxsmash.xyz website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Simple Word Count 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 "Simple Word Count" 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 "Simple Word Count", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.fxsmash.xyz) 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 "fxsmash.xyz", 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 simple word count 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 "Simple Word Count", 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 "Simple Word Count", remove hxxp://fxsmash.xyz 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 simple word count 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 simple word count 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://fxsmash.xyz 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 "Simple Word Count".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the simple word count 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.
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