Charmsearching Virus


The Charmsearching Virus

The Charmsearching Virus is a browser hijacker that infiltrates the browser and then makes charmsearching.com the browser’s homepage and default search engine. The Charmsearching Virus can enter both Windows and Mac browsers and potentially expose their users to various online threats.

Although many people refer to it as a virus, Charmsearching is actually considerably less dangerous compared to Trojan Horses, Spyware viruses, Ransomware, Rootkits, and other common malware threats. The main goal of the fake search engine promoted by this hijacker is to generate revenue through the implementation of different techniques, such as page redirects, aggressive ads and pop-ups, and unauthorized data collection. Any browser can get infected by the Charmsearching hijacker, including popular ones like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.

One of the primary functions of this fake search engine is to gather data related to your browsing habits which can then be sold to Internet advertisers who would, in turn, use it to target you with personalized ads. However, Charmseaching never clearly states what information gets collected or who it may eventually get sold to. In other words, it’s perfectly possible that the data collected from your browser cold end in the hands of scammers, hackers, and other criminal actors, thus exposing you to all sorts of online dangers.

What is Charmsearching?

Charmsearching is a fake browser-hijacking search engine that makes unauthorized browser changes and monitors the user’s online activities. It’s crucial that you remove Charmsearching from your browsers because the longer it stays in them, the higher the chances of getting by online scammers or hackers.

One of the main symptoms that indicate the presence of this hijacker in the browser is the replaced browser homepage. If your browser’s homepage has suddenly been set to charmseraching.com, this means that you have the hijacker on your computer.

If you try to use this search engine to look something up, you will get rerouted to a search results page from Bing, Yahoo, Google, or another legitimate search engine. Charmsearching itself cannot generate search results. While getting redirected to either of the aforementioned legitimate search engines is not a problem, we still advise you to refrain from using the Charmsearching search engine. The reason is that, before you land on the legitimate search engine page, your browser may get rapidly taken through a series of redirects to other sites. Those redirects collectively tend to take less than a second, so you may not even notice them. However, they still count as visits to those other sites. The idea is that this allows those sites to artificially get more views, which increases their ratings and also allows them to collect data from the users’ browsers. However, most sites that rely on this type of artificial promotion aren’t particularly safe and reliable, and it’s generally advisable to keep away from them. For that reason, if you see that the Charmsearching site is the current homepage of your browser, try not to use it and instead focus on removing the hijacker from all your browsers.

Ways Charmsearching could have entered your browsers

Many free apps tend to have hijacker elements added to them, so if you have recently installed something new on your computer that was free, this could be the source of the hijacker.

Another option is if you have clicked Agree in a pop-up that appeared in your browser when you visited some unreliable site for the first time. This is why you must be very careful with what sites you are going to and what permission requests they may put on your screen. Oftentimes, the permission requests are disguised as something else. For instance, a site may show you a pop-up where you must click Agree to be allowed to enter the site. However, by selecting the Agree option, you may also be giving your approval to that site to make changes in your browser, to show aggressive notifications, and to monitor your online activities more aggressively. That is why you must steer away from such sites and only visit ones that won’t abuse your trust.

Although the Charmsearching hijacker itself is not capable of damaging your data or system, it may easily lead to your exposure to more rogue sites and apps, phishing pages, and even Trojans, Ransomware, and other malicious viruses. This is why it’s crucial that you stay vigilant and careful when you are online and only interact with content that you are certain isn’t harmful.

SUMMARY:

NameCharmsearching
TypeBrowser Hijacker
Detection Tool

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Remove Charmsearching Virus

To remove Charmsearching from your computer, there are four main things that need to be done:

  1. First, you must search the system for recently installed apps or programs that may have added Charmsearching to your browser and uninstall them.
  2. Next, you have to end any rogue processes that may still be running on your computer.
  3. After that, you will have to reverse any system settings changes that this hijacker may have introduced.
  4. Last but not least, to remove Charmsearching, you must clean every browser on the computer.

Since the Charmsearching hijacker can enter the browsers of both Windows and macOS computers, the guide we’ve prepared for you below is separated into two parts – one for each operating system. Complete the steps for your computer’s OS in the order they are shown, and if you have any questions about the removal of this hijacker, feel free to ask them in the comments.

One final note before we begin the guide, if you are using Mac and have Chrome or Firefox on it, you can use the instructions for cleaning them that we’ve shown in the Windows section of the guide since cleaning the browsers themselves doesn’t differ between Windows and Mac.

How to remove Charmsearching

To remove Charmsearching from Windows systems, do the following:

  1. Go to Uninstall a Program (Programs and Features), check the list for anything that may be unwanted, and uninstall it.
  2. Start the Task Manager, find in it the Charmsearching process, and stop it.
  3. Clean the Hosts file, the Startup section of System Configuration, the DNS settings, and the Registry.
  4. The last step to remove Charmsearching is to delete from the browsers anything linked to this hijacker.

For further details, check out the in-depth instructions below.

Detailed instructions

  1. Select the Start Menu, search in it for the Control Panel of your PC, and open it.
  2. In the Control Panel, find and select the Uninstall a Program option.
  3. Look for suspicious recently installed apps or programs – if you find anything that you are not familiar with, that hasn’t been installed by you or another person that regularly uses the computer, or that seems unwanted for another reason, click on it to highlight it.
  4. Next, select the Uninstall option shown at the top and proceed with the steps from the uninstallation manager.
  5. While uninstalling the potentially unwanted software, be sure to not agree if the uninstaller offers you to keep any temporary data or settings related to that software.
  6. Once you are done with the uninstallation, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start the Task Manager and look at the items shown in the Processes section.
  7. Sort the listed processes by Memory or CPU use and pay attention to the ones with the highest values, searching for items with unfamiliar or questionable names.
  8. If there is a process you think could be harmful and related to Charmsearching, try to find out more about it using the next two methods:
    • Search the Internet for relevant information about the process – if the latter is harmful, it won’t be long before you come across posts on security forums that warn about it.
    • Right-click the process in the Task Manager and go to its File Location. Then use our free online malware scanner to see if any of the files in that folder are malicious.
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    • If you come across information that confirms the process is from Charmsearching and/or if any of the scanned files get detected as threats, you must quit the rogue process by selecting it and then click the End Process option from the bottom-right corner (or right-click > End Process).
      • Important!: Obviously, if there’s a process labeled Charmsearching or anything similar to it, you should directly delete it – there’s no need to look for confirmation that the process is rogue.
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    • After that, you should also delete its entire file location folder. If you aren’t allowed to delete something right now, return after you finish the guide to again try to delete it.
    • The next thing to do is to search for “msconfig” in the Start Menu and to open the first app that appears.
    • In it, go to Startup, deselect any item unfamiliar to you or listed with an unknown developer, and then click OK.
      Mscfg
    • Next, place this file location “notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts” in the Start Menu and select the file that shows up.
      Hosts
    • If you see IPs or other text in the file below the last “Localhost” word, copy what you see there and post it in the comments section.
    • Wait for our reply – after we see your comment, we will tell you if anything needs to be done in the Hosts file. If there wasn’t any text after “Localhost“, directly go to the next step.
    • Yet again, select the Start Menu, search for ncpa.cpl, hit Enter, and then right-click the icon of the network you normally use.
    • Select the Properties option, click the Internet Protocol Version 4 item in the next window.
    • There should be another Properties button in that window – select it and in the next window, check the Obtain an IP address automatically and the Obtain DNS server address automatically options.
    • Click Advanced > DNS, if there are any items in the list there, delete them, and click OK on every window.
    • Finally, search for the regedit.exe app in the Start Menu, open it, and click the Yes option if you are asked to provide permission.
    • In the Registry Editor window, press Ctrl + F, use the search box to look for Charmsearching items and delete anything you find. Always search again after you delete an item to see if there are more that you need to delete.
    • Use the left sidebar of the Editor to locate the following directories:
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Run
      • HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Internet Explorer > Main
    • If you see items with names similar to this one “329ud98j3d98u4etr92uer092g498fj89” or any other strange items, ask about them in the comments and if we tell you they are from the hijacker, delete them.

    Instructions for different browsers

    The following are specific instructions on how to clean the three most popular Windows browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

    How to remove Charmsearching from Google Chrome

    1. To remove Charmsearching from Chrome, first launch the browser and select its menu located in the top-right.
    2. Hover your cursor over the More Tools option to get the sub-menu, and then select Extensions.
    3. Carefully look through the extensions shown on the following page – even if you don’t see Charmsearching there, you should still look for other items that seem unwanted and/or that are unknown to you.
    4. Disable and after that delete the Charmsearching extension and/or any other suspicious extensions you may find there.
      Chrome
    5. Open the menu again, go to Settings > Search Engine and select Manage Search Engines.
    6. Find Charmsearching in the list of search engines, select the three-dots next to it, and then click on Remove. Also, do this with any other search engines you don’t recognize.

    How to remove Charmsearching from Mozilla Firefox

    1. Launch the Firefox browser, click the menu from the upper-right corner, and open Add-ons
    2. Find and delete the Charmsearching add-on, along with any other potentially unwanted or unneeded add-ons that may be listed there.
      Firefox
    3. Go back to the menu and open Options.
    4. Select Search from the left panel and then look at the Default Search Engine address – if that address is charmsearching.com or another one that you do not trust, replace it with a trusted search engine such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
    5. Now scroll down until you get to the One-Click Search Engines list and remove from it Charmsearching as well as any other search engine tools that you do not know or trust.

    How to remove Charmsearching from Microsoft Edge

    1. After you start the Edge browser, click the three dots in the top-right and open Extensions.
    2. Like with the previous two browsers, delete the Charmsearching extension if you see it there, along with anything else that you think must be removed.
    3. Next, go to Settings from the three-dot menu and select Privacy and Security from the left.
    4. Scroll down in the right panel, until you find the Address bar option.
      Edge
    5. Click on Address bar and see what the search engine address is shown there – if it is Charmsearching or anything else you do not trust, change it to a trusted search engine tool.
    6. After that, go to Manage Search Engines and just like you did in Chrome, select the three dots next to charmsearching.com and every other suspicious search engine you may see there and click on the Remove option.

    Important note!: Some users report that disabling the Video Downloader extension/add-on in their browsers have solved their problems with Charmsearching. If you see the Video Downloader extension in your browser, try disabling and/or deleting it and see if this helps.

    How to get rid of Charmsearching on Mac

    To get rid of Charmsearching on macOS computers, the user needs to meticulously clean their Mac in the following way.

    1. First, you should explore the Applications folder and uninstall any recently added apps that may be related to the invasive hijacker.
    2. Next, you must use the Activity Monitor utility to find out if there are any hijacker processes running at the moment and quit them.
    3. Thirdly, you must go to Safari and get rid of Charmsearching in the browser, you must delete any rogue extensions, clear the browsing data, and replace the changed starting page.

    Detailed removal instructions

    1. First, click on Finder from the top of the screen and select the Applications folder shown in the left sidebar.
    2. Next, see what apps are there and if any of them are unknown to you, or you don’t remember installing them, right-click them and select the Move to Trash option.
    3. Also, move to the Trash any applications in that folder that have been downloaded from unreliable and potentially unsafe sources.
    4. Next, from the Applications folder, open Utilities and start the Activity Monitor app.
    5. In it, look for unfamiliar and potentially malicious items. Pay attention to how much RAM, CPU, and battery life the different processes are using – the hijacker process will likely have high resources usage.
    6. If you find anything that you suspect of being linked to Charmsearching, seek information about that process on the Internet and if there is information posted on reliable security sites/forums that states the process is malicious, end the process by clicking on it, clicking the X in the top-left of the Activity Monitor, and then selecting the Quit option.
      • Naturally, if any of the processes carry the Charmsearching name, you should directly quit it.
        Act Mntr
    7. Now go to the Safari browser, once you open it, click the Safari menu from the menu bar, and go to Preferences.
    8. From the Preferences bar, select Extensions, find the Charmsearching extension and delete it. If there are other questionable and/or unknown items shown on that page, delete them too.
      Safari2
    9. Next, open General and look at the address for the browser’s homepage – if it is set to charmsearching.com or to any other address that you don’t trust, change the homepage URL to the address of a safe website.
      Safari
    10. Also, check the Search section – see what the current default search engine of Safari is and if it is one that you do not trust, change it to the search engine you prefer.
    11. Next, go to Privacy, select the Remove All Website Data/Manage Website Data option and clear all data for Safari.
    12. Now, if there are other browsers on your Mac, remember to clean them as well (instructions for Chrome and Firefox are available above, in the Windows section).
    13. Lastly, go to the Trash and empty it and then restart your Mac.
    14. After the computer restarts, check the state of your browsers and if the issue with Charmsearching continues and the hijacker is still there, we suggest using this powerful anti-malware tool to deal with the problem.
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    About the author

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    Brandon Skies

    Brandon is a researcher and content creator in the fields of cyber-security and virtual privacy. Years of experience enable him to provide readers with important information and adequate solutions for the latest software and malware problems.

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