THREAT REMOVAL

Defend Search Redirect — How to Remove It from Your Browser

how to remove Defend Search redirect stf

The Defend Search redirect is a recently discovered browser hijacker that has started infecting targets worldwide. It changes the default settings of the installed web browsers and can lead to many other infections. Our in-depth removal guide shows how victims can easily restore the infections.

Threat Summary

Name Defend Search
Type Browser Hijacker, PUP
Short Description The redirect can change the homepage, search engine and new tab on each browser installed on the compromised machine.
Symptoms Depending on the exact redirect configuration different behaviour patterns can be executed. The list includes user redirection, malware infections and etc.
Distribution Method Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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User Experience Join Our Forum to Discuss Defend Search.

Defend Search Redirect – Distribution

Browser hijackers like the Defend Search redirect can be distributed using different methods. Depending on the intended scope of infections and target users the criminals behind it can utilize different strategies. A common method is the coordination of email spam messages that are usually made by following pre-existing templates. The hackers employ social engineering tricks that attempts to blackmail the users into getting infected. There are several types of messages that can be made:

  • Hyperlinks — The hackers can redirect the users to a site hosting the Defend Search redirect infections via links. They can be masked as password reset notifications, services and etc.
  • File Attachments — The hacker operators can directly attach the virus files to the messages. Usually they are disgised as software installers.
  • Infected Documents — Computer criminals can embed malware code in different types of documents: rich text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. As soon as they are opened a notification prompt appears which asks the victims to run the embedded scripts (macros). As soon as this is done the virus is downloaded from a remote server and executed on the infected systems.

Another technique bundles the malware code into software installers. The criminals usually obtain the installers from their official sources and then spreads the malware software packages to hacker-operated sites and file sharing apps like BitTorrent. In some cases the computer users may be able to disable the infections by unchecking certain options. The malware sites can also use various web scripts such as redirects, pop-ups and banners.

Defend Search Redirect – In Detail

The Defend Search redirect can impose a variety of malware activity on the targets depending on the preliminary hacker configuration. Usually the attacks begin with the basic browser changes. The criminals modify the default search engine, new tabs page and home page in order to redirect the victims to the malware site. The programmers tend to make the code compatible with the most popular applications: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge.

When the infection has complete the victims will find that every they open up their browser the Defend Search malware home page will be displayed. At the same time tracking cookies will be placed in the applications that track the victims every site interaction. The bulk of harvested information is relayed in real time to the hacker operators.

As the Defend Search redirect infections happen through the web browsers the computer criminals can access data stored in them. This includes the following: form data, bookmarks, history, preferences, passwords and account credentials.

In many cases redirects such as this one are operated as part of a larger network of connected sites that all pool the data and cross-reference it in order to create a complete profile of the targets. The extracted data can be categorized into two separate categories:

  • Anonymous Metrics — Such data creates a complete profile of the installed hardware components and software. This information is used for statistical purposes.
  • Personally-identifiable Information — This batch of information can directly expose the users identity. Example data includes names, addresses, phone numbers, nick names and etc.

If used with in conjunction with an advanced infection tactic the Defend Search redirect can be used to deliver additional threats to the victims. This effectively makes the hijacker a step in the multi-stage delivery of the various malware. Examples include ransomware and Trojans.

During the security investigation the experts discovered that the modular framework can allow for a malware server connection. Using it the hackers can institute a Trojan component that can allow the hackers to view the users desktop at any given time. They can also overtake control of the victim machines at any given time.

The Defend Search redirect home page is designed using a template that copies the way legitimate service are made. It is comprised of a top menu bar that holds several interactive elements.

A logo image is placed on the far left, next to it is the search engine box itself and underneath it are search type buttons. On the right the users can view the Login, Photos and Gmail shortcuts. By the looks of it the Defend Search redirect is a customized Google search instance.

The users may be fooled into thinking that it is safe to use the service, however in many cases the results can be altered to inclue sponsored or affiliate links.

How to Remove Defend Search Redirect

The detailed guide below shows how to remove Defend Search redirect from all affected browsers and from the PC. In some cases, the manual removal may not be enough to eliminate completely the hijacker. So be advised to run a scan with an advanced anti-malware tool. It will locate all leftovers so you can easily delete them with a few mouse clicks. Furthermore, an active anti-malware tool on the system guarantees its protection from future malware infections.

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Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove Defend Search from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Defend Search

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall Defend Search and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Defend Search on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Defend Search there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for Defend Search with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

Get rid of Defend Search from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Defend Search and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Defend Search:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Defend Search. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Defend Search. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Defend Search via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Defend Search. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Defend Search from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase Defend Search from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall Defend Search from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Defend Search from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Defend Search will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate Defend Search from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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