Remove Default-Search.net (Virus Removal Guide)

Default-Search.net is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will change your browser homepage to default-search.net and set the default search engine to search.yahoo.com.
[Image: Default-Search.net virus]
This in itself is not considered malicious as there are many legitimate programs that change these settings as well. What is considered malicious, though, is that it will also append the argument http://default-search.net/ to random Windows shortcuts on your desktop and your Windows Start Menu.

The Default-Search.net homepage will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries. The Default-Search.net hijack is used to boost advertising revenue, as in the use of blackhat SEO, to inflate a site’s page ranking in search results.

Default-Search.net it’s technically not a virus, but it does exhibit plenty of malicious traits, such as rootkit capabilities to hook deep into the operating system, browser hijacking, and in general just interfering with the user experience. The industry generally refers to it as a “PUP,” or potentially unwanted program.
Default-Search.net is an ad-supported (users may see additional banner, search, pop-up, pop-under, interstitial and in-text link advertisements) cross web browser plugin for Internet Explorer (BHO) and Firefox/Chrome (plugin) and distributed through various monetization platforms during installation. The browser extension includes various features that will modify the default or custom settings of the browser including the home page, search settings and in some cases will modify Internet Explorer’s load time threshold, place a lock file within Firefox to prevent competing software from changing its settings as well as disable the browser’s Content Security Policy in order to allow for cross site scripting of the plugin.

Default-Search.net homepage got on your computer after you have installed a freeware software (video recording/streaming, download-managers or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation this browser hijacker.
For example, when you install VAF Player, you will also agree to change your browser homepage to default-search.net, set the default search engine to search.yahoo.com, and hijack your browser shortcuts.
[Image: Default-Search.net redirect]
However when you uninstall VAF Player from your computer, your web browser’s default settings will not be restored. This means that you’ll have to remove Default-Search.net homepage from your favorite web browser manually.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this Default-Search.net browser hijacker. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

How to remove Default-Search.net (Virus Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove Default-Search.net from your Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, STOP and ask for our assistance.
STEP 1: Uninstall Linkey by Aztec Media from Windows
STEP 2: Remove Default-Search.net from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome
STEP 3: Remove Default-Search.net browser hijacker from your computer with AdwCleaner
STEP 4: Remove Default-Search.net with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 5: Double-check for the Default-Search.net infection with HitmanPro

STEP 1 : Uninstall Linkey by Aztec Media from Windows

In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious program that might be installed on your computer.

  1. To uninstall a program from Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, click the Start button, then click on the Control Panel menu option.
    [Image: Control Panel in Windows Start Menu]
    If you are using Windows 8, simply drag your mouse pointer to the right edge of the screen, select Search from the list and search for “control panel” .Or you can right-click on a bottom left hot corner (formerly known as the Start button) and select Control Panel from there.
    [Image: Control Panel in Windows 8]
  2. When the Control Panel window opens click on the Uninstall a program option under Programs category. This option is shown by the arrow in the image below. If you are using the Classic View of the Control Panel, then you would double-click on the Programs and Features icon instead.
    [Image: Uninstall a program]
  3. When the Programs and Features or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and uninstall Linkey by Aztec Media, and any other recently installed or unknown programs from your computer.
    To view the most recently installed programs, you can click on the “Installed On” column to sort your program by the installation date. Scroll though the list, and uninstall any unwanted or unknown programs.
    [Image: Uninstall Linkey  from Windows]
    Depending on what program has installed the Default-Search.net infection, the above program may have a different name or not be installed on your computer. If you cannot find any unwanted or unknown programs on your machine, then you can proceed with the next step.

If you are having issues while trying to uninstall the Default-Search.net program, you can use Revo Uninstaller to completely remove this unwanted program from your machine.


STEP 2: Remove Default-Search.net from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome

Remove Default-Search.net from Internet Explorer

You can reset Internet Explorer settings to return them to the state they were in when Internet Explorer was first installed on your PC.

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the “gear icon[Image: icongear.jpg] in the upper right part of your browser, then click again on Internet Options.
    [Image: Internet Options in Internet Explorer]
  2. In the “Internet Options” dialog box, click on the “Advanced” tab, then click on the “Reset” button.
    [Image: Reset Internet Explorer]
  3. In the “Reset Internet Explorer settings” section, select the “Delete personal settings” check box, then click on “Reset” button.
    [Image: Reset Internet Explorer to its default settings]
  4. When Internet Explorer has completed its task, click on the “Close” button in the confirmation dialogue box. You will now  need to close your browser, and then you can open Internet Explorer again.
    [Image Reset Internet Explorer settings]

Remove Default-Search.net from Mozilla Firefox

If you’re having problems with Firefox, resetting it can help. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history and open tabs.

  1. In the upper-right corner of the Firefox window, click the Firefox menu button ([Image: Firefox Menu button]), then click on the “Help” ([Image: Firefox Help button]) button.
    [Image: Click on the Menu button then Help]
  2. From the Help menu, choose Troubleshooting Information.
    If you’re unable to access the Help menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.
    [Image: Troubleshooting Information in Firefox]
  3. Click the “Reset Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
    [Image: Reset Firefox to its default settings]
  4. To continue, click on the “Reset Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
    [Image: Click on the Reset Firefox button]
  5. Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on the “Finish“.

Note: Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.

Remove Default-Search.net from Google Chrome

  1. Click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines ([Image: Chrome's main menu button]) .When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled Settings.
    [Image: Click on Settings button]
  2. Chrome’s Settings should now be displayed in a new tab or window, depending on your configuration. Next, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Show advanced settings link (as seen in the below example).
    [Image: Click on Show advanced settings link]
  3. Chrome’s advanced Settings should now be displayed. Scroll down until the Reset browser settings section is visible, as shown in the example below. Next, click on the Reset browser settings button.
    [Image: Click on Reset browser button]
  4. A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the Reset button.
    [Image: Click on Reset button to restore Chrome to default settings]

STEP 3: Remove Default-Search.net browser hijacker with AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer and web browser for the “Default-Search.net” malicious files, browser extensions and registry keys, that may have been installed on your computer without your knowledge.

  1. You can download AdwCleaner utility from the below link.
    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download AdwCleaner)
  2. Before starting AdwCleaner, close all open programs and internet browsers, then double-click on the AdwCleaner icon.
    AdwCleaner Icon
    If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run AdwCleaner, please allow it to run.
  3. When the AdwCleaner program will open, click on the “Scan” button as shown below.
    Click on Scan button to find Default-Search.net virus
    AdwCleaner will now start to search for the “Default-Search.net” malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
  4. To remove the “Default-Search.net” malicious files that were detected in the previous step, please click on the “Clean” button.
    Remove Default-Search.net virus with AdwCleaner
  5. AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or documents, as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button.
    AdwCleaner removing Default-Search.net virus

STEP 4: Remove Default-Search.net with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free uses industry-leading technology to detect and remove all traces of malware, including worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware, and more.
It is important to note that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware works well and should run alongside antivirus software without conflicts.

  1. You can download download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware from the below link.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
  2. Once downloaded, close all programs, then double-click on the icon on your desktop named “mbam-setup-consumer-2.00.xx” to start the installation of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware setup program]
    Picture of User Account Control You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
  3. When the installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Setup Wizard which will guide you through the installation process.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Setup Wizard]
    To install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your machine, keep following the prompts by clicking the “Next” button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Final Setup Screen]
  4. Once installed, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will automatically start and you will see a message stating that you should update the program, and that a scan has never been run on your system. To start a system scan you can click on the “Fix Now” button.
    [Image: Click on the Fix Now button to start a scan]
    Alternatively, you can click on the “Scan” tab and select “Threat Scan“, then click on the “Scan Now” button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Threat Scan]
  5. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now check for updates, and if there are any, you will need to click on the “Update Now” button.
    [Image: Click on Update Now to update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware]
  6. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for the Default-Search.net virus. When Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is scanning it will look like the image below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware while performing a scan]
  7. When the scan has completed, you will now be presented with a screen showing you the malware infections that Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes Anti-malware has found, click on the “Quarantine All” button, and then click on the “Apply Now” button.
    [Image: Remove the malware that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has found]
    Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.
  8. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will now quarantine all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. When removing the files, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot your computer, please allow it to do so.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware while removing viruses]
    After your computer will restart, you should open Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and perform another “Threat Scan” scan to verify that there are no remaining threats

STEP 5: Double check for the Default-Search.net infection with HitmanPro

HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner, designed to rescue your computer from malware (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc.) that have infected your computer despite all the security measures you have taken (such as anti virus software, firewalls, etc.). HitmanPro is designed to work alongside existing security programs without any conflicts. It scans the computer quickly (less than 5 minutes) and does not slow down the computer.

  1. You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Double-click on the file named “HitmanPro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “HitmanPro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows). When the program starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below.
    [Image: HitmanPro start-up screen]
    Click on the “Next” button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
    [Image: HitmanPro setup options]
  3. HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for Default-Search.net malicious files.
    [Image: HitmanPro scanning for malware]
  4. When it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as shown in the image below. Click on the “Next” button, to remove Default-Search.net malware.
    [Image: HitmanPro scan results]
  5. Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
    [Image: HitmanPro Activate Free License]

Your computer should now be free of the Default-Search.net infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the Premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future, and perform regular computer scans with HitmanPro.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove Default-Search.net hijacker from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance forum.

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ABOUT STELIAN PILICI

I am the creator and owner of MalwareTips.com.
My area of expertise includes malware removal and computer forensics. I'm active in the various online anti-malware communities where I do researches for new malware threats as they are released.
I live in Bucharest (Romania), where I run my own local computer repair shop.
I repair both hardware and other operating systems related issues, however most of my business is malware related problems.

You can follow me on Google+ and I will keep you up-to-date with the latest computer infections and malware threats.

  • Bjorn

    thanks! helped me out :)