What is Protect Surf?
Developed by Intriguing Apps, Protect Surf is a rogue browser extension claiming to enhance users' online protection by preventing malware and spyware infections when browsing malicious websites. Although this functionality may appear useful and legitimate, be aware that Protect Surf is categorized as adware or a potentially unwanted application.
The developers of this rogue browser plug-in employ a deceptive software marketing method called 'bundling' to stealthily install Protect Surf on Internet browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox) without users' consent.
Following successful infiltration, Protect Surf generates various intrusive online advertisements including interstitial, coupon, banner, pop-up, targeted video ads, and download offers of other potentially unwanted applications also considered to be adware. There is a high probability that clicking these advertisements will lead to high-risk adware or malware infections.
In addition, Protect Surf continually monitors users' Internet browsing activity by recording various software and hardware information such as IP addresses, unique identifier numbers, geo-locations, search queries entered into search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), URLs of websites visited, pages viewed, and other details, which may be personally identifiable.
Protect Surf is similar to other rogue browser extensions such as Browsing Safeguard, BrowserWatchdog, Surf Safer, and many others. Having any of these browser extensions installed on your computer may result in serious privacy issues or identity theft, and therefore, you are strongly advised to uninstall Protect Surf from your Internet browsers.
At time of research, Protect Surf was distributed via fake downloads (Java updates, browser updates, etc.) and other adware-type applications. For example: Coupon Server and other savings and coupons related adware.
Most users inadvertently install Protect Surf during download of free software via small programs called 'download clients' on freeware download websites such as download.com, soft32.com, and softonic.com Download clients are used to monetize these websites' free services by offering installation of promoted 'legitimate' browser extensions together with the chosen free software.
Thus, reckless download and installation of freeware often results in adware or malware infections. To prevent installation of Protect Surf, or other potentially unwanted applications, be attentive when downloading free software and never accept installation of any additional applications offered.
Furthermore, if you are installing downloaded software, select the 'Custom' or 'Advanced' installation options - this will reveal any bundled applications listed for installation and allow you to decline them. Internet users who have already installed Protect Surf adware, should follow this removal guide to eliminate it from their Internet browsers.
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- What is Protect Surf?
- STEP 1. Uninstall potentially unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Protect Surf ads from Internet Explorer.
- STEP 3. Remove Protect Surf advertisements from Google Chrome.
- STEP 4. Remove Ads by Protect Surf from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 5. Remove Protect Surf extension from Safari.
- STEP 6. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Protect Surf adware 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 "Protect Surf" (or other potentially unwanted applications - at time of testing, Protect Surf ads were generated by various coupon ads showing adware), select this entry and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted program (which causes Protect Surf ads), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Remove Protect Surf adware from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:
Remove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:
Click the "gear" icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for "Protect Surf", select this entry and click "Remove". Note that Protect Surf ads can be caused by other adware. In the Manage Add-ons window, remove all suspicious browser add-ons.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the protect surf virus, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.
Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.
Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.
In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.
Click the Reset button.
Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Tools" and click on "Extensions". Locate: "Protect Surf", select this entry and click the trash can icon. Note that Protect Surf ads can be caused by other adware. In the "extensions" window of Google Chrome, remove all suspicious browser extensions.
If you are unable to remove Protect Surf (or any other add-on) and it is greyed-out ("Installed by enterprise policy"), follow this removal guide - how to remove a Google Chrome extension that is "Installed by enterprise policy"?
If you continue to have problems with removal of the protect surf virus, 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". Click on "Extensions", in the opened window remove "Protect Surf". Note that Protect Surf ads can be generated by other adware. In the "Add-ons Manager" window, remove all suspicious browser add-ons.
Computer users who have problems with protect surf virus 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, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....
In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.
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 upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the protect surf virus, 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.
Commonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.
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