THREAT REMOVAL

Fastest Searches Redirect Removal — How To Restore Your Browser

The article will help you to remove Fastest Searches fully. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions given at the end of the article.

The Fastest Searches redirect is a browser extension that can be used for hijacker purposes. Interaction with it can hijack personal data belonging to the victims. Our in-depth article explores some of the dangers associated with its presence on infected hosts.

Threat Summary

Name Fastest Searches
Type Browser Hijacker, PUP
Short Description The hijacker redirect can alter the homepage, search engine and new tab on every browser application you have installed.
Symptoms The homepage, new tab and search engine of all your browsers will be switched to Fastest Searches. You will be redirected and could see sponsored content.
Distribution Method Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

User Experience Join Our Forum to Discuss Fastest Searches.

Fastest Searches – Distribution Methods

The Fastest Searches redirect is a typical representative of the browser hijacker malware type. It is delivered using several main methods that are launched at the same time to maximize the number of infected hosts.

A main tactic is the use of email SPAM messages that are coordinated in large attack campaigns. The criminals use social engineering techniques in order to coerce the victim users into interacting with a malware element. Depending on the current customization the hijacker files may be attached directly or hyperlinked in the messages.

The criminals can construct fake download sites that use the same design templates and other web elements. Advanced strains even utilize similar sounding domain names.

These sites along with the email messages are used to spread infected payload carriers that contain the Fastest Searches redirect code. There are two main types that are typically distributed against the targets:

  • Infected Documents — The criminals can embed the redirect code into files of different types: rich text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and etc. As soon as they are opened by the users a notification prompt will be spawned that requests permissions to enable the built-in macros (scripts). When this is done the virus infection sequence will follow.
  • Application Installers — The Fastest Searches redirect can be delivered directly via software installers. In the most typical case the hackers will download the legitimate file from the official vendor site and embed the code. Typically popular applications are chosen such as any productivity software, creativity suites or system utilities.

Usually hijackers like this one are spread on the relevant plugin repositories. The hackers can use fake developer credentials and user reviews in order to confuse the target users into installing the malicious extension. They are often accompanied by elaborate descriptions, in some cases even videos.

Fastest Searches – Detailed Description

The virus infections utilize the typical infection behavior patterns that are considered standard for these type of viruses. The browser hijacker code will start to manipulate the affected web browser and modify the default settings: default home page, new tabs page and search engine. The next time the users open their applications they will be shown the hacker-controlled page.

Depending on the exact configuration of the associated threats the Fastest Searches redirect various can be used to coordinate different system changes. This may include changes to the Windows Registry — modifications to the user-installed applications can render certain functions and services non-working. When these changes are made to the operating system then overall computer performance may suffer. As a result of the made changes the browser hijacker may be installed as a persistent threat. This means that it will create entries for itself in the Windows Registry and certain configuration files that will render it difficult to remove using manual methods.

Another component that can be launched by the malicious code is the information retrieval one. In combination with a network module it can harvest strings that are classified into two main types:

  • Campaign Metrics — This category includes all kinds of information that can be used to optimize the hacker attacks. It is primarily made up of details about the installed hardware components and certain values related to the regional settings set by the users.
  • Personal Information — The obtained information can be used to directly reveal the identity of the victims. This can include their name, address, location, interests and passwords.provide

Some browser hijackers are also capable of launching a stealth protection module that can bypass certain scans from security software.

Hybrid hijacker strains can include a Trojan component that connects to a hacker-controlled server to report the made infections. It can also be used to spy on the victims in real time, allow the hackers to take over control of the infected machines at any time and deploy additional threats.

Once the Fastest Searches redirect has been installed onto the victim computers it will also add an icon next to the search main bar of the affected web browsers to signal its presence. The web site will install tracking elements such as cookies, beacons and scripts onto the victimm’s browser which will track their site interactions.

We remind our readers that any interaction with the shown search engine may lead to misleading or even bad results. While it may be powered by a legitimate Internet service such as Google or Yahoo, the hackers may have customized it to show sponsored links and possibly sites that lead to virus instances. A large part of them can also integrate scripts such as in-line hyperlinks, redirects, pop-ups and banners.

In the last few years browser redirects can also carry cryptocurrency miner code. It uses the victim machine’s available hardware resources in order to generate large income profits for the hacker operators.

Many of the contemporary browser redirect strains add links to popular Internet services such as social media. If they enter in their account credentials the obtained data can be transferred to the hacker operators.

Fastest Searches – Privacy Policy

During our analysis we have not been able to access the privacy policy documents. This gives us the assumption that it may be privacy-invasive by harvesting a lot of personal information without alerting the users. The lack of information regarding the company that is behind it adds to the premise that the infection must be removed as soon as possible.

An example privacy policy can list the following data that is being automatically collected from the web browsers:

  • Social Media Accounts & Usage — Whenever a social media service is accessed through the relevant browser hijacker the user data can be accessed by the service as well.
  • Email Data — If the Fastest Searches redirect links the users to an affiliate email service all of the inbox contents can be made accessible to them.
  • Other Sites Interactions — The tracking cookies can give the operators an overview of the victim’s usage of all web sites, not just the ones that they directly control.
  • Sensitive Data — This includes metrics associated with the victims themselves — data that can be directly expose their identity such as their name, address, telephone number and etc.
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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 Fastest Searches from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Fastest Searches

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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches:

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 Fastest Searches. 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 Fastest Searches. 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches. 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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 Fastest Searches 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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