Remove SearchProtection.exe (Virus Removal Guide)

SearchProtection.exe is a potentially unwanted program that is designed to protect its bundled programs and make sure they remain installed or unchanged by other third party programs.
The SearchProtection.exe program is a part of the MyStart Toolbar program, and is developed by Spigot, a company known for their malicious programs.

There are 6 versions of SearchProtection.exe in the wild, the latest version being 3.26.5.0. It is started as a Windows Service with the name ‘SProtection’. The average file size is about 2.58 MB. The file is a digitally signed and issued to Lavasoft Limited by GlobalSign. During the process’s lifecycle, the typical CPU resource utilization is about 0.0001% including both foreground and background operations, the average private memory consumption is about 3.55 MB with the maximum memory reaching around 6.96 MB. Additionally, typically read and write I/O disk operations is about 0 Bytes per minute for reads and 0 Bytes per minute for writes.
If you have SearchProtection.exe program on your system, you will typically see two “SearchProtection.exe” processes running in the Windows Task Manager.
[Image: SearchProtection.exe virus]

SearchProtection.exe is typically added when you install another free software (video recording/streaming, download-managers or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation this program. Very often users have no idea where did it come from, so it’s not surprising at all that most of them assume that SearchProtection.exe is a virus.
This program is also bundled within the custom installer on many reputable download sites, so if you have downloaded a software from these websites, chances are that SearchProtection.exe was installed during the software setup process.
SearchProtection.exe 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.

Once installed, SearchProtection.exe will change the default search engine and home page in all major web browsers, and if you try to revert to their default settings, this program will not allow you to perform these changes.
[Image: SearchProtection.exe program]
SearchProtection.exe is bundled within the installer of many toolbars, adware and other potentially unwanted programs, with the sole purpose of making the removal process of this programs more difficult.
Some examples of infections that will install the SearchProtection.exe program are: MyStart Toolbar, Yontoo Toolbar Platform, Widgi Toolbar, Dealio Toolbar and many more programs.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this SearchProtection.exe 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 SearchProtection.exe (Virus Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove SearchProtection.exe pop-ups from your computer, and any other adware program that may have been installed during the the setup process.
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 SearchProtection.exe programs from your computer
STEP 2: Remove SearchProtection.exe adware with AdwCleaner
STEP 3: Remove SearchProtection.exe browser hijackers with Junkware Removal Tool
STEP 4: Remove SearchProtection.exe virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 5: Double-check for the SearchProtection.exe infection with HitmanPro

STEP 1 : Uninstall SearchProtection.exe program from your computer

SearchProtection.exe was installed with adware or browser hijacker program that you have recently installed on your computer. In our case SearchProtection.exe infection was installed with the MyStart toolbar.
In this first step, we will try to identify and remove any malicious program that might be installed on your computer.

  1. To uninstall the SearchProtection.exe program from your computer, click the Start button, then select Control Panel, and click on Uninstall a program.
    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, then select Uninstall a program.
    [Image: Uninstall a program]
  2. When the Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and uninstall Search Protection, Widgi Toolbar Platform, MyStart Toolbar, Dealio Toolbar and any other recently installed or unknown programs from your computer.
    [Image: Uninstall SearchProtection.exe malicious programs from Windows]

If you are having issues while trying to uninstall the SearchProtection.exe malicious programs, you can use Revo Uninstaller to completly remove the unwated programs from your machine.

Depending on what program has installed the SearchProtection.exe 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.


STEP 2: Remove SearchProtection.exe adware from your computer with AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer for SearchProtection.exe adware, 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 automatically download AdwCleaner on your computer)
  2. Before starting AdwCleaner, close all open programs and internet browsers, then double-click on the AdwCleaner icon.
    Picture of 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.
    Picture of AdwCleaner Scan button
    AdwCleaner will now start to search for SearchProtection.exe malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
  4. To remove the SearchProtection.exe malicious files that were detected in the previous step, please click on the Clean button.
    Picture of AdwCleaner Clean button
    AdwCleaner will now prompt you to save any open files or data as the program will need to reboot the computer. Please do so and then click on the OK button.

STEP 3: Remove SearchProtection.exe browser hijackers with Junkware Removal Tool

Junkware Removal Tool is a powerful utility, which will remove SearchProtection.exe browser hijacker from Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome.

  1. You can download the Junkware Removal Tool utility from the below link:
    JUNKWARE REMOVAL TOOL DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will automatically download the Junkware Removal Tool utility on your computer)
  2. Once Junkware Removal Tool has finished downloading, please double-click on the JRT.exe icon as seen below.
    [Image: Junkware Removal Tool]
    If Windows prompts you as to whether or not you wish to run Junkware Removal Tool, please allow it to run.
  3. Junkware Removal Tool will now start, and at the Command Prompt, you’ll need to press any key to perform a scan for the SearchProtection.exe virus.
    [Image: Junkware Removal Tool scanning for SearchProtection.exe virus]
    Please be patient as this can take a while to complete (up to 10 minutes) depending on your system’s specifications.
  4. When the scan Junkware Removal Tool will be completed, this utility will display a log with the malicious files and registry keys that were removed from your computer.
    [Image: Junkware Removal Tool final log]

STEP 4: Remove SearchProtection.exe virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free utilizes Malwarebytes powerful technology to detect and remove all traces of malware including worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more.

  1. You can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free from the below link, then double-click on the icon named mbam-setup.exe to install this program.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK(This link will open a download page in a new window from where you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free)
  2. When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue with the setup process, then at the last screen click on the Finish button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware final installation screen]
  3. On the Scanner tab, select Perform quick scan, and then click on the Scan button to start searching for the SearchProtection.exe malicious files.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Quick Scan]
  4. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer for SearchProtection.exe as shown below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanning for SearchProtection.exe virus]
  5. When the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan has finished, click on the Show Results button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan results]
  6. You will now be presented with a screen showing you the computer infections that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has detected. Make sure that everything is Checked (ticked), then click on the Remove Selected button.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malwar removing SearchProtection.exe]

STEP 5: Double-check for the SearchProtection.exe infection with HitmanPro

  1. You can download HitmanPro from the below link:
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a 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.
    HitmanPro scanner
    Click on the Next button, to install HitmanPro on your computer.
    HitmanPro installation
  3. HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for SearchProtection.exe malicious files.
    HitmanPro detecting for SearchProtection.exe virus
  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 SearchProtection.exe adware.
    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 30 days activation button]

Your computer should now be free of the SearchProtection.exe infection. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO 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 SearchProtection.exe virus from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance

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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.

  • robert

    Thanks. You solved a problem that has been plaguing me for months!

  • Austin

    Thanks!