PUP

How to Remove Ad-Aware Secure Search


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This page aims to help you remove Ad-Aware Secure Search. Our removal instructions work for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, as well as every version of Windows.

Although Ad-Aware is a legitimate and well-known security-software vendor, recently, there have been a couple of products coming from this company which have been reported to contain elements which may be considered low-quality or undesirable. One such product is Ad-Aware Secure Search – a browser add-on for Firefox, Chrome and other browsers that is available in the Google Chrome online Store. The main issue that users (and a number of security researchers) have with this app is the fact that it integrates in the browser search engines from Visicom Media – a known creator of adware and browser hijacker software responsible for unauthorized homepage, toolbar and search engine alterations in the users’ browsers. Usually, any such obscure custom search engines should not be allowed to be set as the default ones in the browser since their results may be modified and different ads and obscure sites may get promoted through such search engines.

Ad-Aware Secure Search Browser Redirect

However, once you install Ad-Aware Secure Search in the browser, your search engine would likely get replaced without you getting asked for your permission and the same may happen to the new-tab page address of your browser as well as to its homepage. Though this won’t really harm your computer directly, having such components of your browsers altered and replaced with new and unknown tools may be a potential hazard.

For instance, sometimes the results you may get from using the new search engine added to your browser may not be well optimized and you may get presented with sites and pages that aren’t really relevant to what you’ve been looking for and are instead filled with ads and promotional materials that you aren’t really interested in. In most cases, this would simply annoy the user rather than cause any real problem. However, there are undoubtedly many web addresses out there that may not be all that reliable or safe and landing on them could sometimes lead to additional issues – you may get more unwanted apps added to your browser, you may get misled into buying products that are of low-quality and you may even become more exposed to hacker attacks. The Ad-Aware Secure Search app itself is legitimate and is not intended to lead to any of this but the components that it may place in your browser may not be all that helpful which, in turn, could be what makes the situation more problematic.

How Ad-Aware Secure Search may get installed

As we said, the browser add-on is in the Google Chrome Store but many users may also get it from an installation bundle. For instance, if you install other Ad-Aware products, Ad-Aware Secure Search may be added to their installers as a bonus browser tool that is likely under an “opt-out” clause in the installer (you need to opt-out of it if you don’t want to install it with the main program). Additionally, some updates for programs and applications like uTorrent, Adobe and Java may also have the Ad-Aware Secure Search added as a bonus elements so you may want to keep that in mind when updating your software.

SUMMARY:

Name Ad-Aware Secure Search
Type PUP
Danger Level Low (isn’t harmful but may add unwanted elements to your browser and not allow you to remove them)
Symptoms  A new search engine or homepage address in your browser that you haven’t added yourself are the typical symptoms.
Distribution Method Chrome Store and by being bundled with other Ad-Aware products as well as with different program and app updates.
Detection Tool

How to Remove Ad-Aware Secure Search

If you have a Windows virus, continue with the guide below.

If you have a Mac virus, please use our How to remove Ads on Mac guide.

If you have an Android virus, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.

If you have an iPhone virus, please use our iPhone Virus Removal guide


Step1

Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.

Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).

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Step2

WARNING! READ CAREFULLY BEFORE PROCEEDING!

Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab (the “Details” Tab on Win 8 and 10). Try to determine which processes are dangerous. 

malware-start-taskbar

Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:

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Maximum file size: 128MB.

This scanner is free and will always remain free for our website's users. You can find its full-page version at: https://howtoremove.guide/online-virus-scanner/




Scan Results


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After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders. 

Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections. 

Step3

Hold together the Start Key and R. Type appwiz.cpl –> OK.

appwiz

You are now in the Control Panel. Look for suspicious entries. Uninstall it/them.

Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:

msconfig_opt

Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer or otherwise look suspicious.

Step4

Hold the Start Key and R –  copy + paste the following and click OK:

notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:

hosts_opt (1)

If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.

Open the start menu and search for Network Connections (On Windows 10 you just write it after clicking the Windows button), press enter.

  1. Right-click on the Network Adapter you are using —> Properties —> Internet Protocol Version 4 (ICP/IP), click  Properties.
  2. The DNS line should be set to Obtain DNS server automatically. If it is not, set it yourself.
  3. Click on Advanced —> the DNS tab. Remove everything here (if there is something) —> OK.

DNS

Step5

  • After you complete this step, the threat will be gone from your browsers. Finish the next step as well or it may reappear on a system reboot.

Right click on the browser’s shortcut —> Properties.

NOTE: We are showing Google Chrome, but you can do this for Firefox and IE (or Edge).

browser-hijacker-taskbar-properties

Properties —–> Shortcut. In Target, remove everything after .exe.

ie9-10_512x512  Remove Ad-Aware Secure Search from Internet Explorer:

Open IE, click  IE GEAR —–> Manage Add-ons.

pic 3

Find the threat —> Disable. Go to IE GEAR —–> Internet Options —> change the URL to whatever you use (if hijacked) —> Apply.

firefox-512 Remove Ad-Aware Secure Search from Firefox:

Open Firefoxclick  mozilla menu  ——-> Add-ons —-> Extensions.

pic 6

Find the adware/malware —> Remove.
chrome-logo-transparent-backgroundRemove Ad-Aware Secure Search from Chrome:

Close Chrome. Navigate to:

 C:/Users/!!!!USER NAME!!!!/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. There is a Folder called “Default” inside:

Rename the Folder to Backup Default

Rename it to Backup Default. Restart Chrome.

Step6

Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter.

Inside, press CTRL and F together and type the threat’s Name. Right click and delete any entries you find with a similar name. If they don’t show up this way, go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. It could be any one of them – ask us if you can’t discern which ones are malicious.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!


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