How to remove “Webs Searches” (Virus Removal Guide)

Webs Searches is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will change your browser homepage to istart.webssearches.com and default search engine to webssearches.com. This in itself is not considered malicious as there are many …

Webs Searches is a browser hijacker, which is promoted via other free downloads, and once installed it will change your browser homepage to istart.webssearches.com and default search engine to webssearches.com.
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://istart.webssearches.com to random Windows shortcuts on your desktop and your Windows Start Menu.
[Image: Webs Searches virus]
The Webs Searches homepage will display advertisements and sponsored links in your search results, and may collect search terms from your search queries. The Webs Searches hijack is used to boost advertising revenue, as in the use of blackhat SEO, to inflate a site’s page ranking in search results.

Webs Searches 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.
Webs Searches 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.

Webs Searches 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 VPlay, you will also agree to change your browser homepage to istart.webssearches.com and default search engine to webssearches.com
[Image: Webs Searches redirect]
However when you uninstall VPlay from your computer, your web browser’s default settings will not be restored. This means that you’ll have to remove Webs Searches 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 Webs Searches 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 Webs Searches  (Virus Removal Guide)

This page is a comprehensive guide, which will remove Webs Searches 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 Webs Searches malicious programs from your computer
STEP 2: Remove Webs Searches from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome
STEP 3:Clean up the various Windows shortcuts that have been hijacked by Webs Searches virus
STEP 4: Remove Webs Searches browser hijacker from your computer with AdwCleaner
STEP 5: Remove Webs Searches virus with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
STEP 6: Double-check for the Webs Searches infection with HitmanPro

STEP 1 : Uninstall Webs Searches malicious programs from your computer

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 malicious program responsible for the Webs Searches redirect 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 Webs Searches uninstaller, WPM17.8, Webs Searches Browser new tab extension, IePluginService, SupTab, Wsys Control and any other recently installed unknown program 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 Webs Searches malicious program from Windows]
    Depending on what program has installed the Webs Searches adware 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 Webs Searches program, you can use Revo Uninstaller to completely remove this unwanted program from your machine.


STEP 2 : Remove Webs Searches from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome

Remove Webs Searches from Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon [Image: icongear.jpg] (Tools for Windows XP users) at the top (far right), then click again on Internet Options.
    Internet Options in IE
  2. In the Internet Options dialog box, click on the Advanced tab, then click on the Reset button.
    Reset Internet Explorer
  3. In the Reset Internet Explorer settings section, check the Delete personal settings box, then click on Reset.
    Internet Explorer back to its default settings to remove Webs Searches
  4. When Internet Explorer finishes resetting, click Close in the confirmation dialogue box and then click OK.
  5. Close and open Internet Explorer.

Remove Webs Searches from Mozilla Firefox

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click the Firefox button, go over to the Help sub-menu (on Windows XP, click the Help menu at the top of the Firefox window), and select Troubleshooting Information.
    Firefox Troubleshooting Information
  2. Click the Reset Firefox button in the upper-right corner of the Troubleshooting Information page.
    Firefox default settings  to remove Webs Searches virus
  3. To continue, click Reset Firefox in the confirmation window that opens.
  4. Firefox will close and be reset. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click Finish

Remove Webs Searches from Google Chrome

  1. Remove Webs Searches extensions from Google Chrome.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button on the browser toolbar, select Tools and then click on Extensions.
    Google Chrome Extensions
    In the Extensions tab, remove Extended Protection 1.9, Quick Serch, Lightning Newtab  and any other unknown extensions by clicking the trash can [Image: Remove an extension from Chrome] icon.
    Basically, if you have not installed a Chrome extension, you should remove it from your web browser.
    [Image: Webs Searches Chrome extension]
  2. Set Google Chrome default search engine from WebsSearches to Google.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on Manage search engines in the Search section.
    In the Search Engines dialog that appears, select Google and click the Make Default button that appears in the row.
    [Image: WebsSearches Chrome redirect]
    Search for Yahoo Search in the Search Engines list, and click the X button that appears at the end of the row.
    [Image: WebsSearches Chrome removal]
  3. Change Google Chrome homepage from istart.webssearches.com to its default.
    Webs Searches has modified your Google settings to open their webpage whenever you start your browser, so we will need to revert this change.
    Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu  button, then select Settings and click on One the New Tab page in the On Startup section.
    [Image: Change Google Chrome homepage to its default]

STEP 3: Clean up the various Windows shortcuts that have been hijacked by Webs Searches virus

This infection has hijacked your browser shortcuts, so in this step we will need to manually clean them by removing the istart.webssearches.com argument

  1. Search for your browser shortcut (Desktop, Taskbar or Start Menu Shortcut), then right click on it and select Properties.
    [Image: Firefox Shortcut properties]
    To view the Properties menu for the browser shortcuts pinned to your Task Bar, right-click on the browser shortcut from the Taskbar, then right-click again on the browser icon as see in the below image. Alternatively, you can just Unpin the browser shortcut from your task bar, then you can add it back after you have removed the “istart.webssearches.com” argument from the original browser shortcut.
    [Image: taskbar shortcut hijacker]
  2. In the Shortcut tab, in the Target field, remove the http://istart.webssearches.com argument. Basically, there should be only the path to browser executable file. Nothing more.
    These are the default shortcut path that should be in your Target box, if the istart.webssearches.com argument is there, then you should remove it.

    If you are using this browser: In the Target field you should have:
    Internet Explorer “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe”
    Chrome “C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” for Windows 32 bit OR “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” for Windows 64-bit
    Firefox “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” for Windows 32-bit OR “C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” for Windows 64-bit

    [Image: Webs Searches hijack]


STEP 4: Remove Webs Searches browser hijacker with AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner utility will scan your computer for Webs Searches malicious files 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 Webs Searches malicious files that may be installed on your computer.
  4. To remove the Webs Searches 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 5: Remove Webs Searches virus from your computer 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 it to install this program.
    MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page 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.
    Do not make any changes to default settings and when the program has finished installing, 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 scanning your computer.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Quick Scan]
  4. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware will now start scanning your computer as shown below.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scanning for Webs Searches virus
  5. When the Malwarebytes scan will be completed,click on Show Result.
    [Image: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan results]
  6. You will now be presented with a screen showing you the malware infections that Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has detected.Please note that the infections found may be different than what is shown in the image.Make sure that everything is Checked (ticked) and click on the Remove Selected button.
    [Image:Malwarebytes removing malware]

STEP 6: Double check for the Webs Searches 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.).

  1. You can download HitmanPro from the below link, then double click on it to start this program.
    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. HitmanPro will start and you’ll need to follow the prompts (by clicking on the Next button) to start a system scan with this program.
    HitmanPro installation
  3. HitmanPro will start scanning your computer for malware, as seen in the image below.
    HitmanPro scanning for Webs Searches virus
  4. Once the scan is complete,you’ll see a screen which will display all the infected files that this utility has detected, and you’ll need to click on Next to remove these malicious files.
    HitmanPro scan results
  5. Click Activate free licenseto start the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your computer.
    HitmanPro 30 days activation button

Your computer should now be free of the Webs Searches 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.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove Webs Searches hijacker from your machine, please start a new thread in our Malware Removal Assistance forum.

If we have managed to help you, please share this guide to help others.