What is Chrome Protect — Smart Search?
We have discovered the Chrome Protect — Smart Search application while examining various deceptive websites (a screenshot of one of these pages can be found below). After downloading and executing its installer, we have noticed that it has hijacked a web browser by changing its settings.
Chrome Protect — Smart Search in detail
While analyzing the Chrome Protect — Smart Search application, we have learned that this application is a browser hijacker designed to promote a fake search engine. The purpose of this app is to change the default search engine, homepage and new tab page to browseprotect.co - a fake search engine.
At the time of the research, browseprotect.co redirected us to google.com - it displayed results generated by Google. It is important to mention that fake search engines can generate misleading results (promote shady websites) and show results generated by untrustworthy search engines.
|Name||Chrome Protect — Smart Search|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||Chrome Protect — Smart Search|
|Supposed Functionality||Improved browsing experience|
|Detection Names (browseprotect.co)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (browseprotect.co)||126.96.36.199|
|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
Apps like Chrome Protect — Smart Search are often used to gather information about their users. In such cases, their developers may misuse collected data for malicious purposes. Asides from that, most browser-hijacking apps share the same purpose - to promote fake search engines.
How did Chrome Protect — Smart Search install on my computer?
The installer for Chrome Protect — Smart Search is promoted using a website that encourages visitors to install this app to receive a critical privacy update. It could be promoted using more than one deceptive page. Either way, a browser has likely been hijacked after opening a file downloaded from an untrustworthy page.
It is also common for such apps to be bundled with other programs. Users install unwanted apps after installing programs without changing "Custom", "Advanced" or other settings available in their installers.
How to avoid installation of unwanted applications?
Do not trust files and programs promoted on shady websites. Always use official websites and direct links as sources for downloading them. Also, do not click on advertisements while visiting questionable websites. Deselect unwanted applications (using available settings) before downloading and installing software.
If your computer is already infected with Chrome Protect — Smart Search, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Browseprotect.co redirects to google.com (GIF):
Website promoting Chrome Protect — Smart Search browser hijacker:
Deceptive website promoting Chrome Protect — Smart Search browser hijacker:
Browser notification displayed before installation:
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 Chrome Protect — Smart Search?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Chrome Protect — Smart Search application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Chrome Protect — Smart Search browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove browseprotect.co homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove browseprotect.co redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug—ins from Microsoft Edge.
Chrome Protect — Smart Search 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, "Chrome Protect — Smart Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the browseprotect.co website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Chrome Protect — Smart 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 "Chrome Protect — Smart 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 "Chrome Protect — Smart Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.browseprotect.co) 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 "browseprotect.co", 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 browseprotect.co 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 "Chrome Protect — Smart 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 "Chrome Protect — Smart Search", remove hxxp://browseprotect.co 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 browseprotect.co 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 browseprotect.co 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users visit browseprotect.co website?
The revenue generated by a page depends on the count of visits, so its creators seek to make it as much visitable as possible.
Is visiting browseprotect.co a threat to my privacy?
Visiting browseprotect.co can be a threat to privacy because websites of this type (fake search engines) are often used to gather various information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are distributed using social engineering tactics (such as browser notifications, intrusive advertisements, etc.), installers (and downloaders) for other programs, fake installers, deceptive advertisements.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove Chrome Protect — Smart Search browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your computer and eliminate existing browser-hijacking applications. Removing browser hijackers (manually) can be tricky when multiple apps of this type present because they can reinstall one another. In such cases, all browser hijackers to be removed at once. It can be easily achieved with specialized software like Combo Cleaner.