How to remove software that generates redirects to thesearchonline.com
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is thesearchonline.com?
Thesearchonline.com is the URL of a fake search engine. While most websites of this type cannot provide search results, this site can. However, the results from thesearchonline.com are inaccurate and include irrelevant/deceptive content.
Illegitimate search engines are commonly endorsed (via redirects) by browser hijackers. It is noteworthy that these websites and the software promoting them usually collect sensitive user data.
How do browser hijackers promote thesearchonline.com?
Browser hijackers assign the addresses of promoted websites as browsers' default search engines, homepages, and new tab/window URLs. Therefore, with one endorsing thesearchonline.com installed: new browser tabs/windows opened and search queries typed into the URL bar – would result in redirects to this page.
Additionally, browser-hijacking software often employs persistence-ensuring techniques to stop users from recovering their browsers.
In most cases, fake search engines cannot generate search results and redirect to Bing, Yahoo, Google, or other legitimate ones. Thesearchonline.com is an exception to this; however, the results it provides are inaccurate and include irrelevant, sponsored, deceptive, and potentially dangerous content.
Furthermore, illegitimate search engines and browser hijackers typically spy on users' browsing activity. Data of interest may include: searched queries, viewed webpages, visited URLs, IP addresses, Internet cookies, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, finance-related information, and so on. The collected data can be sold to third-parties or otherwise abused for profit.
In summary, the presence of browser-hijacking software on devices may lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Name||thesearchonline.com browser hijacker|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Affected Browser Settings||Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine|
|Detection Names||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address||188.8.131.52|
|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).|
|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.
Fake search engine and browser hijacker examples
Searchingright.com, searchontec.com, finderflash.club – are just some examples of fake search engines we have inspected, and Cosmos Extension, Tennis Start, Infinity Search – of browser hijackers.
These sites and software rarely look suspicious; they tend to appear legitimate and innocuous. However, they seldom work as promised, and in most cases – they are utterly nonoperational. Keep in mind that even if a website or a piece of software works as indicated by its promotional material – that is not a guarantee of either legitimacy or safety.
How did thesearchonline.com promoting software install on my computer?
Browser hijackers can have "official" promotional webpages, and they are pushed by scam sites. Most users enter these pages through redirects caused by websites using rogue advertising networks, mistyped URLs, intrusive ads, spam browser notifications, or installed adware.
Additionally, browser-hijacking software can be bundled with regular programs. Download from untrustworthy sources (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushed installations (e.g., ignored terms, used "Easy/Quick" settings, etc.) – increase the risk of inadvertently permitting bundled content into the device.
Browser hijackers are proliferated by intrusive adverts as well. When clicked on, some of these advertisements can execute scripts to perform stealthy downloads/installations.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software and downloading only from official/verified channels. It is essential to approach installation processes with caution, e.g., by reading terms, studying possible options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting out of all additional apps, extensions, tools, features, etc.
Another recommendation is to be vigilant while browsing since fraudulent and malicious content typically appears harmless. For example, intrusive adverts may look legitimate yet redirect to highly questionable websites (e.g., pornography, adult dating, gambling, etc.).
Should you keep experiencing ads/redirects of this kind, check the device and immediately remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.
Appearance of a redirect to thesearchonline.com (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 thesearchonline.com?
- STEP 1. Uninstall unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove thesearchonline.com browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove thesearchonline.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove thesearchonline.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Thesearchonline.com redirect 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, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Thesearchonline.com redirect 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 all 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 the malicious extension (if present), look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.thesearchonline.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 "thesearchonline.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 thesearchonline.com browser hijacker, 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 and themes". Click "Extensions", in the opened window locate 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 malicious extension (if present), remove hxxp://thesearchonline.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 thesearchonline.com browser hijacker 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 thesearchonline.com browser hijacker, 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 thesearchonline.com website?
Redirects to sites like thesearchonline.com are generated because cyber criminals (e.g., developers of fake search engines and browser hijackers, etc.) profit through them.
Is visiting thesearchonline.com a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Websites like thesearchonline.com typically collect information about their visitors. The gathered data may be sold to third-parties.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
The most widely used distribution techniques include bundled installation setups, online scams, dubious download channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), spam browser notifications, and intrusive ads.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove browser hijackers?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of scanning computers and eliminating detected browser-hijacking applications. Note that manual removal (performed without the aid of security programs) might be ineffective, particularly in cases where multiple browser hijackers are present. Since after one is removed – the others may simply reinstall it. Furthermore, removal-related settings might be inaccessible with browser-hijacking software installed. Therefore, browser hijackers must be eliminated thoroughly and all at once.
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