What is Top Search?
While inspecting untrustworthy download webpages, our research team discovered the Top Search browser extension. Our analysis of this extension revealed that it operates as browser-hijacking software and promotes the search.tops-searchs.com fake search engine.
Top Search browser hijacker overview
After we installed Top Search on our test machine, it assigned search.tops-searchs.com as the browser's default search engine, homepage, and new tab/window URLs. Hence, new browser tabs/windows opened, and search queries typed into the URL bar - resulted in a redirect to the search.tops-searchs.com website.
Fraudulent search engines are rarely capable of generating search results, so they redirect to genuine ones. We observed search.tops-searchs.com redirecting to the Bing search engine (bing.com). However, it might land elsewhere since factors like user geolocation can impact redirects.
Furthermore, most browser hijackers use persistence-ensuring techniques to prevent users from recovering their browsers, and Top Search is not an exception.
What is more, this browser extension spies on users' browsing activity. Browser-hijacking software typically collects URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, personally identifiable details, usernames/passwords, financial/banking data, etc. The gathered information is then monetized through sale to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
To summarize, the presence of software like Top Search on devices can lead to serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||Top Search|
|Detection Names (search.tops-searchs.com)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (search.tops-searchs.com)||184.108.40.206|
|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 thousands of browser hijacker samples; Easy Search, Common Search, and Extra Search are merely a couple of our newest finds. This software usually looks ordinary and harmless. Users are enticed into download/installation with promises of "handy" functionalities, which are rarely operational.
How did Top Search install on my computer?
We obtained Top Search from its "official" promotional site. In addition to such webpages, browser hijackers are pushed through scam websites. Most users enter these pages through redirects caused by mistyped URLs, sites using rogue advertising networks, intrusive ads, spam browser notifications, or installed adware.
Browser-hijacking software is also spread by using the "bundling" technique - packing regular program installation setups with unwanted/malicious supplements. Download from dubious channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushed installations increase the risk of permitting bundled content into the device.
Intrusive adverts are used in browser hijacker proliferation as well. Upon being clicked, some of these advertisements can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user consent.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We highly recommend researching software and downloading only from official and trustworthy sources. Furthermore, installation processes must be treated with caution, e.g., by reading terms, studying available options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting-out of all additions.
We also advise being vigilant when browsing since illegitimate and malicious content usually appears innocuous. For example, intrusive advertisements look legitimate yet redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).
If you experience such adverts/redirects, inspect the device and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Top Search, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Permissions asked by Top Search browser hijacker:
Website promoting Top Search browser hijacker:
Appearance of search.tops-searchs.com redirecting to the Bing 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 Top Search?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Top Search application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Top Search browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove search.tops-searchs.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove search.tops-searchs.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Top 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, "Top Search"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the search.tops-searchs.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Top 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 "Top Search" and other recently-installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "Top Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.search.tops-searchs.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 "search.tops-searchs.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Delete".
- If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.tops-searchs.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 extensions from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons and themes". Click "Extensions", in the opened window locate "Top Search", as well as all recently-installed suspicious extensions, click on the three dots and then click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Settings", in the opened window disable "Top Search", remove hxxp://search.tops-searchs.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 "Accept the Risk and Continue".
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 search.tops-searchs.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 search.tops-searchs.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 search.tops-searchs.com website?
Cyber criminals (i.e., developers of browser hijackers and fake search engines) generate revenue via redirects to websites like search.tops-searchs.com.
Is visiting search.tops-searchs.com a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Sites like search.tops-searchs.com usually collect (and sell) information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are mostly proliferated through deceptive "official" promotional webpages, software bundling, freeware and third-party download websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, online scams, fake updates, and spam browser notifications.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove Top Search browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can scan devices and eliminate all the browser-hijacking applications present. It has to be mentioned that manual removal (unaided by security software) might be ineffective. In cases when multiple browser hijackers have infiltrated the system, after one is removed - the others may re-install it. Furthermore, removal-related settings might be inaccessible with this software installed. Therefore, browser hijackers must be removed thoroughly and all at once.