Remove ProtectedSearch (Protected-search.com)

ProtectedSearch is considered as potentially unwanted program (PUP). Its penetration method was patterned from questionable apps that gains access on the computer even without user’s approval. Attackers are relying on basic software bundling technique to distribute the program and have it installed on the computer alongside the host application.

The moment ProtectedSearch enters the browser, web user will start to encounter various issues and troubles. It will start with the conquest of homepage where, instead of usual Google Search, it will show the Protected-search.com search engine. New tab pages also commits to these changes because ProtectedSearch was designed to override most of the settings on internet browser program.

Aside from executing unwanted changes on internet browser application, ProtectedSearch is dedicated on making profit during its existence. It could bombard the browser with excessive ads once it senses that web user is surfing the internet. Ads by ProtectedSearch can be pop-up or redirect that often land user’ browser to a web page containing deceitful tactics to persuade visitors into downloading an additional adware or more hazardous threat like malware.

Similar to older variants as Spinyon, Searchsio.com, and Cranchit.com, ProtectedSearch is a monitoring tool that sends web users information to attacker. It collects vital data like search keywords, favorite websites, user name, passwords, IP address, and so on. Makers of ProtectedSearch may abuse collected data to elevate its ad revenue by displaying personalized advertisements. Some attackers are willing to sell gathered information from user to gain additional revenue.

Screenshot image of ProtectedSearch

The fact that ProtectedSearch was made primarily to exploit infected browser program for money-making purpose is enough for it to be labeled as malicious. Therefore, the recommendation to clean the computer starts with the removal of ProtectedSearch. Scanning the computer with valid anti-virus and anti-malware tools are the best way to get rid of the threat.

ProtectedSearch Removal Procedure

Below is a systematic instruction that is very useful in getting rid of the potentially unwanted program (PUP) from compromised computer.

In order to totally eliminate the threat, it is vital to follow the process in exact manner.

Stage 1: Delete Browser Extension

Most adware and unwanted programs are using a program called browser extension to be able to take over the settings of internet applications. Therefore, we highly recommend to check and remove the extension that is closely related to ProtectedSearch.

Remove ProtectedSearch Extension from Google Chrome

1. Open Google Chrome browser.

2. Type chrome://extensions/ in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.

Chrome Extensions

3. Find ProtectedSearch or relevant entry and remove it from Google Chrome.

Uninstall ProtectedSearch Extension from Firefox

1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser.

2. Type about:addons in the address bar and press Enter on keyboard.

Firefox Extensions

3. Choose Extensions on sidebar menu.

4. Look for object that is pertaining to ProtectedSearch and remove it from the browser.

Remove ProtectedSearch Add-ons from Internet Explorer

1. Open Internet Explorer program.

2. Go to top Menu and click Tools. Then, select Manage Add-ons from the drop-down list.

Internet Explorer Add-ons

3. Look for and Remove or Disable entries of ProtectedSearch from Toolbars and Extension and Search Providers section.

4. Close the window and restart Internet Explorer.

If ProtectedSearch is still present on the IE browser, another option is to remove the adware from Windows Control Panel.

5. Press Windows Key + R and then, type appwiz.cpl command.

6. Program and Features window will open. Arrange the list in chronological manner with recently installed applications on top. To do this, click on ‘Installed On‘ column.

Add-Remove Malware

7. Select ProtectedSearch or recently installed unwanted entry. Then, click on Uninstall to remove it from Windows system.

Stage 2: Scan and Delete Adware with AdwCleaner

In addition to the procedure, we suggest scanning the computer with AdwCleaner tool. Possibly, there are some traces of ProtectedSearch on the browser that was not deleted during the preceding steps. This tool will scan the computer and check for presence of malicious applications.

1. Follow the link below to download the tool called AdwCleaner.
Click here to download AdwCleaner (this will open a new window)

2. When the download has completed, please close all running programs on the computer especially browsers affected by ProtectedSearch.

3. Browse the location of the downloaded file and double-click on adwcleaner_Ver.exe to start running the tool. Then, click on Scan button.

AdwCleaner

4. AdwCleaner searches the computer for malicious programs, extensions, plug-ins, adware, and any items that may be associated to ProtectedSearch.

5. Clean or Remove all suspicious and harmful items identified after the thorough scan.

6. After the cleanup procedure, rebooting the computer is required to finalize the removal of detected threats.

Stage 3: Scan the Computer with Sophos Virus Removal Tool

Lastly, we will scan the computer with a multi-function security program. This will inspect the computer for possible presence of virus, malware, rootkit, adware as well as unwanted homepage like ProtectedSearch.

1. Download Sophos Virus Removal Tool from the link below. Save the file on your computer where you can easily access it.
Sophos Virus Removal Tool Download Link (this will open a new window)

2. Once the download completes, browse the location of the file. Double-click to run the program and begin the install process. If Windows prompts for User Account Control, please click Yes to proceed.

Sophos-exe

3. On first windows of installation wizard, click Next to continue. Then, it will display the program’s License Agreement. You need to Accept the terms in order to proceed.

4. On succeeding windows, click Next or Continue to carry on with the installation. After completing the installation process, Launch Sophos Virus Removal Tool.

5. Internet connection is required when running this scanner in order to download important updates. Make sure that everything is up-to-date to effectively remove malicious program like ProtectedSearch.

6. Click the  button to  carry out the Scan. This will check the system for presence of malicious objects, malware, and viruses. The tool reveals items that were found linked to ProtectedSearch and other suspicious entities. Be sure to remove all identified threats.

Sophos Virus Scanner

Stage 4: Remove Protected-search.com Pop-up Notification

These procedures in stopping Protected-search.com pop-up notification may only be effective if relevant extension do not exist on the browser. If ever there is a relevant extension currently installed, this push notification configuration will reinstate during browser start-up. So, make sure that you have removed any malicious extension from the browser before executing the following steps.

For Google Chrome Users

1. Open Google Chrome browser.

2. Type the following strings in the address box and press Enter on your keyboard: chrome://settings/content/notifications

3. Navigate to “Allow” section and find Protected-search.com from the list.

Google Chrome Notifications

4. Click on More Actions and select Block from the options.

5. Please restart Google Chrome browser.

For Mozilla Firefox Users

1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser program.

2. Type the following strings on address bar and press Enter on keyboard: about:preferences#privacy

3. Under Permissions section, click on Settings button beside Notifications.

4. Look for Protected-search.com and set the status to Block.

Mozilla Firefox Notifications

5. Lastly, click Save Changes and restart Mozilla Firefox browser.

Option: Alternative Method to Clean Up Internet Browser from ProtectedSearch

Not all adware and PUP’s are the same. Some cannot be removed by deleting relevant extensions and codes. On this instances, resetting the browser to default configuration is the only best solution. If ProtectedSearch is still bothering you after completing all the steps above, please execute the procedures below to reset the settings of affected browser program.

Use Chrome Clean Up Tool to Delete ProtectedSearch

1. Open Google Chrome application.

2. Type this strings in the address box: chrome://settings/ and then, press Enter on keyboard.

3. Scroll down and expand Advanced settings area.

4. Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see Reset and Cleanup section.

5. Click on Clean Up Computer. On next page, please click FIND to proceed.

Clean Up Computer

This feature of Google Chrome aims to find harmful software and remove it instantly. If unable to delete ProtectedSearch, the other option is to Reset Google Chrome settings to its original defaults. Just go back to previous page (Clean Up Computer) and reset the settings. See more details on this page.

Reset Mozilla Firefox to Default

If Mozilla Firefox is affected by ProtectedSearch and procedures above were not helpful, we suggest that you carry out these steps. This process can fix the issue by restoring Firefox browser to default factory state. Most browser data will be affected but not bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, and internet cookies. Extensions and other installed plug-ins maybe deleted by this function. Therefore, if you wish to remove specific extension only, please see manual add-on removal from this link.

1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser and type the following in the address bar: about:support

2. Browser will be directed to a page of Troubleshooting Information. You will notice a section on upper-right corner of the screen stating ‘Give Firefox a Tune Up‘. Click the Refresh Firefox button.

FF Reset

3. Confirmation window will pop-up, click Refresh Firefox to continue.

4. The reset process will automatically close the browser and proceed with the restoration. Next, it will display a list of restored data. ProtectedSearch should be gone by now. Click Finish to close the current window and open a fresh window of Mozilla Firefox.

Post Last Modified On October 14, 2020

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