How to remove CustomSearch browser hijacker and the redirects it causes
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is CustomSearch?
During a routine inspection of suspicious software-promoting websites, our researchers discovered the CustomSearch application. Our analysis revealed that this app operates as a browser hijacker. It promotes fake search engines (e.g., nseext.info, customsear.ch, etc.) by causing redirects to them and likely has data-tracking abilities.
CustomSearch browser hijacker overview
Browser hijackers usually modify the following browser settings: default search engine, homepage, and new tab/window - by reassigning them to the promoted URL. However, our inspection uncovered that CustomSearch only resets a browser's default search engine.
At the time of research, this browser hijacker caused redirects to nseext.info and customsear.ch; however, it may push other sites as well. Fake search engines usually cannot provide search results, so they redirect to legitimate ones. Both nseext.info and customsear.ch landed on the Bing search engine (bing.com).
Additionally, while in the settings for the default search engine is referred to it as "Bing" - a closer look at the URL revealed that it featured nseext.info or customsear.ch. It is noteworthy that these redirects might land elsewhere (not just Bing), as they can depend on various factors (e.g., user geolocation, etc.).
Furthermore, browser-hijacking software typically spies on users' browsing activity - and this may apply to CustomSearch.
Targeted data can include: visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, personally identifiable details, account log-in credentials, finance-related information, etc. The collected data can be monetized via sale to third-parties or otherwise abused for profit.
To summarize, the presence of software like CustomSearch on devices can lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Detection Names (installer)||CrowdStrike Falcon (Win/grayware_confidence_90% (D)), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Detection Names (app)||MaxSecure (Trojan.Malware.300983.susgen), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)|
|Promoted URL||nseext.info; customsear.ch|
|Detection Names (nseext.info)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (nseext.info)||22.214.171.124|
|Detection Names (customsear.ch)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (customsear.ch)||126.96.36.199|
|Affected Browser Settings||Default search engine|
|Symptoms||Manipulated Internet browser 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
Omni Convert - Search Settings for Omnibar, Canvas Tab, Super-Newtab - are merely some examples of browser hijackers.
This software usually appears legitimate and harmless. Users are lured into download/installation with various "useful" and "advantageous" features. However, these functionalities seldom work as advertised, and in most cases - they do not work at all.
How did CustomSearch install on my computer?
We downloaded CustomSearch from its "official" promotional webpage. In addition to such sites, browser hijackers are pushed through scam websites. Users typically access both types via redirects caused by pages using rogue advertising networks, spam browser notifications, mistyped URLs, intrusive adverts, or installed adware.
Additionally, intrusive advertisements proliferate browser-hijacking software as well. When clicked on, some of the ads can execute scripts to perform stealthy downloads/installations.
Browser hijackers are also distributed using "bundling" - packing regular installers with unwanted/malicious supplements. Downloading from dubious channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushing through installation processes - increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the device.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software and downloading only from official/verified sources. Additionally, installation must be treated with care, e.g., by reading terms, studying possible options, and using the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opting-out of all supplements.
We advise being vigilant when browsing since fraudulent and malicious content usually appears legitimate. For example, intrusive advertisements may look harmless yet redirect to highly questionable websites (e.g., adult-dating, pornography, gambling, etc.).
In case of encounters with ads/redirects of this kind, check the system and immediately remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with CustomSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
CustomSearch browser hijacker installation setup:
Website promoting CustomSearch browser hijacker:
Example of a search engine promoted by CustomSearch browser hijacker (nseext.info):
Example of a search engine promoted by CustomSearch browser hijacker (customsear.ch):
Appearance of CustomSearch browser hijacker causing a redirect (via nseext.info) 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 CustomSearch?
- STEP 1. Uninstall CustomSearch application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove unwanted search engines from Google Chrome.
CustomSearch 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, "CustomSearch"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the nseext.info/customsear.ch websites), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
CustomSearch browser hijacker removal from Google Chrome:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove unwanted search engines from Google Chrome:
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 "nseext.info" or "customsear.ch", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Delete". Note that the search engines promoted by CustomSearch are named "Bing", hence to identify the engine's URL you have to click the pen icon on the left of aforementioned three-dot menu icon.
- 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 customsearch 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.
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 nseext.info/customsear.ch website?
Cyber criminals (i.e., developers of browser hijackers and fake search engines) generate revenue through redirects to websites like nseext.info and customsear.ch.
Is visiting nseext.info/customsear.ch a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Sites like nseext.info and customsear.ch typically collect (and sell) visitor data.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are primarily spread through bundled software installation setups, deceptive promotional webpages, freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, online scams, spam browser notifications, and intrusive adverts.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove CustomSearch browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can scan systems and eliminate detected browser-hijacking apps. It must be mentioned that manual removal (unaided by security programs) might not be a perfect solution, especially when multiple browser hijackers are present. Since after one browser hijacker is removed - the others may simply re-install it. Additionally, removal-related settings can be inaccessible with browser-hijacking software installed. Therefore, it is paramount to remove browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.
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