What is SportsSearchDirect?
SportsSearchDirect is a browser hijacker promoting (by causing redirects to) the sportssearchdirect.com fake search engine. It operates by making modifications to browser settings. Additionally, SportsSearchDirect has data tracking abilities, which are used to spy on users' browsing habits. Due to the questionable techniques used to distribute browser hijackers, they are also categorized as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
SportsSearchDirect browser hijacker in detail
Browser hijackers primarily target popular browsers with large user bases. Following successful infiltration, this software reassigns browsers' homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs - to fake web searcher addresses. These seemingly minor alterations seriously affect the browsing experience.
For example, with SportsSearchDirect installed: every single search query typed into the URL bar and new browser tab/window opened - redirect to sportssearchdirect.com. Fake search engines usually cannot generate search results, so they redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other genuine ones.
This applies to sportssearchdirect.com as well; it redirects to Yahoo (search.yahoo.com) or searchlee.com (potentially others). Searchlee.com is a fake web searcher that can provide search results, though they are inaccurate and may endorse untrustworthy and malicious content.
Browser hijackers can undo any changes users try to make to their browsers. Alternatively, they can restrict or deny access to the browser settings. Therefore, restoring a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.
What is more, like most browser hijackers, SportsSearchDirect has data tracking abilities. Targeted information includes: URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries typed, IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, and so forth. The collected data is then shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
In summary, the presence of data-tracking software on devices can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. To protect device integrity and user privacy, all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|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
Safe2Search, ProPDFConverterSearch, FreeIncognitoSearch, and GameSearchIt are some examples of browser hijackers. They appear ordinary and harmless. Browser hijackers also offer various functionalities. However, the features seldom work as advertised, and in most cases - they do not work at all.
In fact, nearly all PUAs entice users into download/installation with promises of fake functions. The only goal of unwanted apps is to generate revenue for the developers. PUAs operate by hijacking browsers, causing redirects, running intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collecting private data.
How did SportsSearchDirect install on my computer?
Select PUAs (e.g., SportsSearchDirect) have "official" promotional webpages from which they can be downloaded and/or purchased. Intrusive advertisements are also used to distribute these applications. Once clicked on, the adverts can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.
PUAs are distributed via download/installation setups of other programs as well. This deceptive marketing technique of packing regular software with unwanted/malicious additions - is termed "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the system.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
It is recommended to research software prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, only official and verified download channels must be used. Dubious sources, e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - often offer bundled and dangerous content.
When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings to opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, functions, and other additions. Intrusive ads appear legitimate; however, they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).
In case of encounters with such adverts and/or redirects, 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 SportsSearchDirect, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
SportsSearchDirect browser hijacker asking for various permission:
Appearance of sportssearchdirect.com redirecting to the searchlee.com fake search engine (GIF):
Websites promoting SportsSearchDirect browser hijacker;
IMPORTANT NOTE! Some of these deceptive sites ask to enable web browser notifications:
Therefore, before commencing, perform these steps:
Google Chrome (PC):
- Click the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen and select "Settings"
- Scroll down to the "Privacy and security" section, select "Site settings" and then "Notifications"
- Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL and select "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)
Google Chrome (Android):
- Click on the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen and tap "Settings"
- Scroll down, tap on "Site settings" and then "Notifications"
- In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs and tap on them one-by-one
- Once the pop-up shows up, select either "Block" or "Remove" (if you tap "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)
- Click the Menu button (three bars) on the right upper corner of the screen
- Select "Settings" and click on "Privacy & Security" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen
- Scroll down to the "Permissions" section and click the "Settings" button next to "Notifications"
- In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs and block them using the drop-down menu or either remove them by clicking "Remove Website" at the bottom of the window (if you click "Remove Website" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)
- Click the menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the Edge window and select "Settings"
- Click on "Cookies and site permissions" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen and select "Notifications"
- Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL under "Allow" section and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)
- Click "Safari" button on the left upper corner of the screen and select "Preferences..."
- Select the "Websites" tab and then select "Notifications" section on the left pane
- Check for suspicious URLs and apply the "Deny" option using the drop-down menu or either remove them by clicking "Remove" at the bottom of the window (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)
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 SportsSearchDirect?
- STEP 1. Uninstall SportsSearchDirect application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove SportsSearchDirect browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove sportssearchdirect.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove sportssearchdirect.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
SportsSearchDirect browser hijacker removal:
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, "SportsSearchDirect"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the sportssearchdirect.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
SportsSearchDirect 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 "SportsSearchDirect" 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 "SportsSearchDirect", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.sportssearchdirect.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 "sportssearchdirect.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 sportssearchdirect.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 "SportsSearchDirect", 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 "SportsSearchDirect", remove hxxp://sportssearchdirect.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 sportssearchdirect.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 sportssearchdirect.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 sportssearchdirect.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.
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