What kind of software is Protected Browse?
Protected Browse is a rogue browser extension that promises to block access to malicious websites. We discovered this piece of software during a routine inspection of untrustworthy sites.
Our investigation revealed that Protected Browse modifies browser settings to promote the protectedbrowse.com fake search engine. Additionally, this extension spies on users' browsing activity. Due to this behavior, Protected Browse is classed as a browser hijacker.
Protected Browse browser hijacker overview
Browser-hijacking software reassigns browsers' homepages, default search engines, and new tab/window URLs to the addresses of promoted websites.
Protected Browse operates in this manner as well. Therefore, with this extension installed: Web searches performed via the URL bar and new browser tabs/windows opened – result in redirects to the protectedbrowse.com page.
Illegitimate search engines typically cannot provide search results, so they redirect to genuine Internet search websites. This is also true of protectedbrowse.com; it leads to the Bing search engine (bing.com). It is pertinent to mention that this webpage could land elsewhere, as factors like user geolocation may impact redirects.
In many cases, browser hijackers utilize persistence-ensuring techniques to complicate their removal and prevent users from restoring their browsers.
Furthermore, Protected Browse has data-tracking functionalities. Targeted information may include: visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, Internet cookies, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, finance-related data, and so forth. The gathered information can then be shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).
To summarize, the presence of software like Protected Browse on devices may lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab
|Tool that blocks access to malicious sites
|Detection Names (protectedbrowse.com)
|Serving IP Address (protectedbrowse.com)
|Affected Browser Settings
|Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine
|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.
|Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling).
|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
Software within this classification usually appears no different from legitimate tools. It can also offer a wide variety of "handy" features, which are rarely operational. Keep in mind that even if a browser extension or an application works as advertised – that does not guarantee legitimacy or safety.
How did Protected Browse install on my computer?
Protected Browse has an "official" download page. In addition to such sites, browser hijackers are commonly promoted through online scams. Most visitors to these deceptive webpages enter them through redirects generated by misspelled URLs, spam browser notifications, sites employing rogue advertising networks, intrusive ads, or installed adware.
Browser hijackers can also be bundled with (packed alongside) regular programs. The danger of inadvertently permitting access for bundled content into the system is increased by downloading from untrustworthy sources (e.g., freeware are third-party websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and by treating installations with negligence (e.g., using "Easy/Quick" settings, etc.).
Additionally, browser-hijacking software is proliferated by intrusive adverts. Some of these advertisements can be triggered (i.e., by being clicked) to execute scripts that perform stealthy downloads/installations.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software before downloading or purchasing it. Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and trustworthy channels. When installing, we advise reading terms, inspecting available options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opting out of all supplementary apps, extensions, etc.
Another recommendation is to be careful while browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content usually appears legitimate and innocuous. For example, despite their ordinary/harmless appearance – intrusive ads redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., scam-promoting, pornography, adult dating, gambling, etc.).
If you keep encountering adverts and/or redirects of this kind, inspect the device and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Protected Browse, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Appearance of protectedbrowse.com redirecting to the Bing search engine (GIF):
Website promoting Protected Browse browser hijacker:
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 Protected Browse?
- STEP 1. Uninstall unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Protected Browse browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove protectedbrowse.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove protectedbrowse.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Protected Browse 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, 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.
Protected Browse browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove Protected Browse browser hijacker using Combo Cleaner:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Extensions" and click "Manage Extensions". Locate "Protected Browse" 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 "Protected Browse", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.protectedbrowse.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 "protectedbrowse.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 protectedbrowse.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 "Protected Browse", 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 "Protected Browse", remove hxxp://protectedbrowse.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 protectedbrowse.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 protectedbrowse.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 protectedbrowse.com website?
Redirects to webpages like protectedbrowse.com are generated because cyber criminals (e.g., developers of browser hijackers and fake search engines, etc.) profit through them.
Is visiting protectedbrowse.com a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Sites like protectedbrowse.com tend to collect (and sell) information about their visitors.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser-hijacking software is predominantly proliferated via bundled installation setups, freeware and free file-hosting websites, online scams, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, spam browser notifications, and intrusive advertisements.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove Protected Browse browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can scan systems and eliminate detected browser-hijacking apps. It must be mentioned that manual removal (unaided by security tools) might be ineffective, especially when multiple browser hijackers are present. In these cases, after one is removed – the others may reinstall it. What is more, removal-related settings might be unmodifiable with browser-hijacking software installed. Hence, it is paramount to remove browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.