What is GameSearchOnline?
GameSearchOnline is a rogue piece of software, classified as a browser hijacker. It operates by making alterations to browser settings - to promote the gamesearchonline.com fake search engine. Additionally, most browser hijackers collect browsing-related data. Due to the dubious method use to distribute these software products, they are also categorized as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
GameSearchOnline browser hijacker in detail
Browser hijackers reassign browsers' default search engine, new tab/window, and homepage URLs - to fake web searchers. GameSearchOnline modifies browsers in this manner as well. With this browser hijacker installed: new browser tabs/windows and search queries typed into the URL bar - redirect to gamesearchonline.com.
Fraudulent search engines usually cannot provide search results, so they redirect (or cause redirection chains leading) to legitimate ones. Gamesearchonline.com has been observed redirecting to the real Yahoo (search.yahoo.com) search engine and the searchlee.com fake web searcher (possibly others). While the latter can generate search results, they are inaccurate and may endorse unreliable/malicious content.
Furthermore, browser hijackers ensure persistence by restricting/denying access to the browser settings and/or resetting any permitted changes made. Therefore, restoring a hijacked browser is impossible without eliminating the software affecting it.
Most browser hijackers have data tracking abilities. They record browsing activity (URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries types, etc.) and gather vulnerable data extracted from it (IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, etc.). This data is then shared with and/or sold to third-parties.
To summarize, the presence of data-tracking software on devices can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. Therefore, it is strongly advised to remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Serving IP Address (gamesearchonline.com)||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 Combo Cleaner.
Browser hijackers in general
Freshy, Template Search, Newtab Plus, SearchConvertersBox, and Total Privacy are some examples of browser hijackers. They appear ordinary and harmless. This software also offers a wide variety of features. However, the promised functions are seldom operational.
Practically, all PUAs bait users into download/installation with nonexistent functionalities. The only goal of unwanted apps is to generate revenue; therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can cause redirects, hijack browsers, run intrusive ad campaigns (adware), and collect private data.
How did GameSearchOnline install on my computer?
PUAs are distributed through download/installation setups of other products. "Bundling" is the name of this deceptive marketing technique of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions. These supplements are typically hidden within the "Custom/Advanced" settings or left unmentioned entirely.
By rushing download/installation processes (e.g., ignoring terms, skipping steps and sections, using "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) - users risk inadvertently allowing bundled content into their device, thereby endangering the systems with potential infections.
Intrusive adverts are used to proliferate PUAs as well. Once clicked on, the advertisements can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user permission. Some PUAs also have "official" promotional/download webpages.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is recommended to research software prior to download/installation and/or purchase. All downloads must be done from official and trustworthy sources. Dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc. - commonly offer bundled and harmful content.
When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings to opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, and so on. Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and harmless; however, they redirect to questionable websites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).
Should users encounter such ads and/or redirects, they must check their devices and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with GameSearchOnline, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Appearance of gamesearchonline.com redirecting to the searchlee.com 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 GameSearchOnline?
- STEP 1. Uninstall GameSearchOnline application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove GameSearchOnline browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove gamesearchonline.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove gamesearchonline.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
GameSearchOnline 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, "GameSearchOnline"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the gamesearchonline.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
GameSearchOnline 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 "GameSearchOnline" 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 "GameSearchOnline", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.gamesearchonline.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:
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 "gamesearchonline.com", 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 gamesearchonline.com 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 "GameSearchOnline", 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 "GameSearchOnline", remove hxxp://gamesearchonline.com 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 gamesearchonline.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, 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 gamesearchonline.com 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 gamesearchonline.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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