The article will help you to remove Instasrch.com fully. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions given at the end of the article.
The Instasrch.com redirect is a browser hijacker that has recently been discovered by the security community due to user reports of infections. The thorough security analysis reveals that it may be part of a large network that seeks to gather sensitive information about the visitors. In addition it can be used by hacker operators for crimes, including virus delivery and computer infections. Our thorough removal instructions shows how victims can recover their machines.
|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 Instasrch.com. 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 Instasrch.com |
Malware Removal Tool
|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Instasrch.com.|
Instasrch.com – Distribution Methods
The Instasrch.com redirect can be distributed to targets using different tactics. Usually different mechanisms are used at once in order to increase the infection ratio.
Redirects like this one are usually distributed via browser hijackers. They are often found on the relevant plugin repository for the most popular web browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. The hackers behind it often use counterfeit developer credentials and user reviews.
The infections can also be carried out through email messages. They are usually sent out in bulk and use various social engineering tricks in order to convince the users to interact with the dangerous elements. The infected files can be either attached directly or hyperlinked in the body contents. They are also the main carriers of infected payloads. There are two popular types:
- Infected Documents — The hackers can embed the dangerous scripts in documents (text files, presentations, databases, spreadsheets and etc.) by using scripts (macros). Once they are opened by the victims a notification prompt appears which asks the users to enable them. When this is done the infection follows.
- Software Installers — The hackers can embed the virus code into popular application installers. This is usually done by taking the legitimate file from the official vendors and modifying them to include the malicious code. Popular software are targeted such as system utilities, creativity suites, productivity and office tools and etc.
The criminals behind the Instasrch.com can attempt to create counterfeit download portals that are modeled after the templates of well-known Internet sites. The criminals behind the threat can also create dangerous web scripts that can infect the users via pop-ups, banners, redirects and etc.
In the last few year we have seen an increase in the spread of viruses through file sharing networks. The files are mostly disguised as popular applications, images, ebooks or other content that may be of user interest. The majority of infections of this type are caused via BitTorrent trackers.
The hackers can also use advanced virus infections, Trojans and ransomware in order to spread browser hijackers like this one.
Instasrch.com – Detailed Description
The Instasrch.com redirect is a typical case of a browser hijacker that seeks to infect as many users as possible. The classic infection scheme follows a well-known behavior pattern. The first changes are done to the affected browsers — the users will be automatically redirected to a hacker-controlled site (in this case the hijacker’s main domain). The manipulated settings are the following: default home page, search engine and new tabs.
As the infections originate from the web browsers the criminals can also take over all stored contents within: history, cookies, bookmarks, settings, passwords and etc. When the browser hijackers use a data gathering component it can accumulate information that can reveal the victim’s identity. This is especially dangerous as they are programmed to harvest strings such as the user’s name, address, telephone number, interests, location and passwords. The resulting database can be used for identity theft and related crimes.
If the malicious engine is configured it can also modify the Windows Registry. Consequences of it can be the disruption of application features and services and overall system performance. This can lead to a potential persistent installation of the threat. This makes it execute every time the computer boots.
Some browser hijackers have the ability to act as Trojans by establishing a connection with a hacker-controlled server. It can harvest the obtained information and also spy on the victims in real-time. This module also allows the hacker operators to take over control of the victim machines at any given time. Another use for it is the distribution of additional payloads: ransomware, viruses and etc.
The company’s official site shows that one of their core products and services is to deliver personalized solutions for advertising and content monetization. This leads us to believe that the site may be an order made for their customers. This explains the vast number of collected personal data and the included tracking technology.
Reviewing the AirFind site we can see that the company can link the site with other products and services that it develops:
- Search Widget — This interactive element can be integrated in the home screen and would allow the victims to use the hacker-controlled search engine in an easier manner.
- Intent-Based Content — The company allows their clients to customize the hijacker sites with content that is geared towards the victim’s interests.
- Recommendation Engine — The company has developed an algorithm that allows the site operators to offer software applications via an automated script area.
We anticipate that the app recommendation engine can be used for malicious purposes if it is used in combination with a payload delivery instance.
WARNING! All interactions with the sites and proposed links may lead to other hacker-controlled sites or lead to virus infections.
Any personally-identifiable information if the consent is given — full name, email address, phone number, physical address, and access to contacts stored on mobile devices.
- Any personally-identifiable information if the consent is given — full name, email address, phone number, physical address, and access to contacts stored on mobile devices.
- Personal Data received from third parties — This is usually through accessed social network services — Google, Facebook, or Twitter and the like.
- Analytics information — All site interactions are recorded and relayed to the hacker operators.
- Cookies information — Obtained from the installed cookies.
- Log file information — The server logs record all manners of user interactions.
- Clear gifs/web beacons information — They are used to track the online usage patterns of the visitors.
- Device Identifiers — Unique device identifiers (UDID) belonging to each visitor device are logged. They may reveal the hardware components contained within, stored data, operating sytem configuration strings and other personal information.
- Location data — This paragraph reads that the hacker operators can access GPS coordinates and other information that can reveal the user’s exact location.
- Other Information — All other similar data that can reveal useful information may be hijacked as well.
Remove Instasrch.com Browser Hijacker
To remove Instasrch.com manually from your computer, follow the step-by-step removal instructions given below. In case the manual removal does not get rid of the browser hijacker entirely, you should search for and remove any leftover items with an advanced anti-malware tool. Such software helps keep your computer secure in the future. We remind our readers that certain hijackers (most likely this one as well) are configured to harvest the information to a database shared with other similar threats.