Removing the YouPDFSearch browser-hijacking extension
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is YouPDFSearch?
After analyzing the YouPDFSearch browser extension, our researchers determined that it is a browser hijacker. Following successful installation onto our test machine, we learned that YouPDFSearch makes changes to browser settings in order to promote the youpdfsearch.com fake search engine.
YouPDFSearch browser hijacker overview
YouPDFSearch sets browsers homepage, new tab/window, and default search engine URLs to the youpdfsearch.com site. Hence, new browser tabs/windows opened and search queries typed into the URL - result in a redirect to youpdfsearch.com.
Additionally, youpdfsearch.com is incapable of providing search results - which is typical of these fake search engines. During our analysis, we noted that youpdfsearch.com redirects to the Google search engine. However, it might redirect elsewhere since that can depend on various factors like user geolocation.
Furthermore, browser-hijacking software usually employs persistence-ensuring techniques to prevent browser recovery.
What is more, YouPDFSearch likely spies on users' browsing activity. Browser hijackers typically gather visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, personally identifiable details, account log-in credentials, financial/banking information, and so on. This sensitive data is then monetized through sale to third-parties.
In summary, the presence of software like YouPDFSearch on browsers/systems can lead to severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Detection Names (youpdfsearch.com)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (youpdfsearch.com)||188.8.131.52|
|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 hijacker examples
We have analyzed countless browser hijackers; SearchZubi, Clear Search, and SearcheeBoo! are merely a couple of examples.
Browser-hijacking software appears legitimate and innocuous. Users are lured into download/installation with promises of "useful" features, which are seldom operational. Therefore, not only are browser hijackers useless, but they also endanger device/user safety.
How did YouPDFSearch install on my computer?
Browser hijackers are proliferated using the "bundling" marketing method - packing regular program installers with unwanted/malicious additions. Download from untrustworthy sources (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushed installations increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the system.
Intrusive advertisements are used to distribute browser-hijacking software as well. Once clicked on, some of these ads can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.
Browser hijackers can also have "official" download webpages, and they are promoted on scam sites as well. Users typically access these pages through redirects caused by websites that use rogue advertising networks, mistyped URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive adverts, or installed adware.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software before download/installation. Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified channels. Another recommendation is exercising caution when installing, e.g., by reading terms, exploring possible options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting-out of all supplements.
It is just as important to be vigilant when browsing - since fraudulent and malicious content usually looks legitimate. For example, intrusive ads appear harmless, yet they redirect to highly questionable websites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).
In case of encounters with such advertisements and/or redirects, check the device and immediately remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with YouPDFSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Appearance of youpdfsearch.com redirecting to the Google 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 YouPDFSearch?
- STEP 1. Uninstall YouPDFSearch application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove YouPDFSearch browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove youpdfsearch.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove youpdfsearch.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
YouPDFSearch 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, "YouPDFSearch"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the youpdfsearch.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
YouPDFSearch 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 "YouPDFSearch" 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 "YouPDFSearch", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.youpdfsearch.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 "youpdfsearch.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 youpdfsearch.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 "YouPDFSearch", 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 "YouPDFSearch", remove hxxp://youpdfsearch.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 youpdfsearch.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 youpdfsearch.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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users to visit youpdfsearch.com website?
Redirects to websites like youpdfsearch.com are caused because cyber criminals (i.e., developers of fake search engines and browser-hijacking software) generate revenue through them.
Is visiting youpdfsearch.com a threat to my privacy?
To a certain extent, yes. Sites like youpdfsearch.com typically collect (and sell) data about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are primarily spread via misleading promotional webpages, software bundling, freeware and third-party download websites, online scams, P2P sharing networks, spam browser notifications, intrusive advertisements, and fake updates.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove YouPDFSearch browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your system and eliminate installed browser-hijacking apps. Note that manual removal (unaided by security software) might be ineffective. When multiple browser hijackers have infiltrated the system, after one is removed - the others simply re-install it. Furthermore, this software can restrict access to removal-related settings or undo user-made changes. Therefore, it is crucial to remove browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.
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