What is Search-Monster?
While inspecting rogue webpages, our research team found the Search-Monster browser extension. On our test machine, it modified browser settings to promote the searchmonster.net fake search engine. Therefore, Search-Monster is considered to be a browser hijacker.
Search-Monster browser hijacker overview
Search-Monster assigns searchmonster.net as browsers' default search engine, new tab/window, and homepage URLs. Hence, when we attempted to search the Web via the URL bar or opened a new browser tab/window - we were redirected to the searchmonster.net website.
It is noteworthy that browser-hijacking software typically employs persistence-ensuring techniques to prevent browser recovery, and this also applies to Search-Monster.
Fake search engines usually cannot generate search results, so they redirect to legitimate ones. Searchmonster.net redirected to the Bing search engine (bing.com) during our analysis. However, where such a site lands may vary depending on certain factors, such as user geolocation.
Furthermore, Search-Monster has data-tracking abilities. Browser hijackers usually collect visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, finance-related information, etc. The collected data can be shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
In summary, the presence of software like Search-Monster on devices may result in system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Detection Names (searchmonster.net)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (searchmonster.net)||22.214.171.124|
|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
Globe Earth, FindIt-All, and Trippy Circles are a couple examples of browser hijackers that we have analyzed. This software typically looks legitimate and useful. Users are enticed into download/installations with various "handy" features. However, these functions seldom work as promised, and in most cases - they are utterly nonoperational.
How did Search-Monster install on my computer?
We obtained Search-Monster from its "official" download webpage. Browser hijackers are endorsed on scam websites as well. Most users enter pages of this kind through redirects caused by sites using rogue advertising networks, misspelled URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive advertisements, or installed adware.
Additionally, browser-hijacking software can be bundled with (packed alongside) regular programs. Download from dubious channels (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushed installations (e.g., used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the device.
Intrusive ads also proliferate browser hijackers. When clicked on, some of the adverts can execute scripts to perform downloads/installations without user permission.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We highly recommend researching software before download/installation. Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Installation must be treated with care. Hence, it is crucial to read terms, explore possible options, use the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings, and opt-out of all additional apps, extensions, etc.
Another recommendation is to exercise caution when browsing since fake and malicious content usually appears legitimate. For example, intrusive advertisements look harmless yet redirect to unreliable/questionable websites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.).
In case of encounters with adverts and/or redirects of this type, check the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Search-Monster, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Permissions asked by Search-Monster browser hijacker:
Website promoting Search-Monster browser hijacker:
Appearance of searchmonster.net redirecting to the Bing search engine (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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 Search-Monster?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Search-Monster application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Search-Monster browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove searchmonster.net homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove searchmonster.net redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Search-Monster 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, "Search-Monster"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the searchmonster.net website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Search-Monster 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 "Search-Monster" 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 "Search-Monster", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.searchmonster.net) 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 "searchmonster.net", 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 searchmonster.net 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 "Search-Monster", 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 "Search-Monster", remove hxxp://searchmonster.net 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 searchmonster.net 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 searchmonster.net 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 searchmonster.net website?
Redirects to sites like searchmonster.net are caused because cyber criminals (i.e., developers of browser hijackers and fake search engines) generate revenue through them.
Is visiting searchmonster.net a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Websites like searchmonster.net typically collect information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser-hijacking software is primarily proliferated through bundled software installers, untrustworthy download channels (e.g., deceptive promotional and freeware websites, P2P sharing networks, third-party downloaders, etc.), online scams, spam browser notifications, and intrusive advertisements.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove Search-Monster browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your system and eliminate all the browser-hijacking apps present. Note that manual removal (unaided by security software) might not be a perfect solution, especially in cases where multiple browser hijackers are installed. Since when one is removed - the others may simply re-install it. Additionally, removal-related settings might be unmodifiable with this software present. Hence, it is paramount to eliminate browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.