THREAT REMOVAL

Search.startbrowser.io Redirect Removal — Browser Restore Instructions

The article will help you to remove Search.startbrowser.io fully. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions given at the end of the article.

The Search.startbrowser.io redirect is a recently discovered browser plugin 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

NameSearch.startbrowser.io
TypeBrowser Hijacker, PUP
Short DescriptionThe hijacker redirect can alter the homepage, search engine and new tab on every browser application you have installed.
SymptomsThe homepage, new tab and search engine of all your browsers will be switched to Search.startbrowser.io. You will be redirected and could see sponsored content.
Distribution MethodFreeware Installations, Bundled Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss Search.startbrowser.io.

Search.startbrowser.io – Distribution Methods

The Search.startbrowser.io redirect is being distributed at computer victims using the most popular distribution techniques. The hackers behind the current attack campaign seem to utilize different methods at one in order to maximize the number of infected users.

One of the most effective ways to spread browser hijackers like this one is the set up of entries on the various browser plugin repositories. The criminal often employ fake developer credentials and user reviews along with an elaborate description. They can have many names and forms, not necessarily bearing the same name.

Another technique is the use of email SPAM messages that utilize various forms of social engineering attempts. A common technique is the creation of counterfeit notifications that appear as being sent by well-known Internet services. The criminals hijack the text, images and overall design of the legitimate sites. As such they are among the primary methods for delivering infected payloads. There are two primary types that are widely used to spread threats like this one:

  • Documents — The Search.startbrowser.io redirect can be installed via scripts that are integrated into files such as spreadsheets, presentations, databases and text documents. Once they are opened by the users a notification prompt appears that asks them to enable the built-in macros. When this is done the infection begins.
  • Application Installers — A similar technique can be used with software of different types. The infections are done by taking the legitimate installers from the official vendor sites and modifying them with the virus code.

In addition the hackers can utilize various dangerous web scripts that include all kinds of inline hyperlinks, redirects, pop-ups, banners and etc.

Search.startbrowser.io – Detailed Description

Once the Search.startbrowser.io redirect has been successfully installed on the victim hosts it will start to commit various web browser changes. This is done to all compatible software found on the client machines, usually the most popular web browsers are affected. The list includes Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge. Browser hijackers commonly start with a modification of the default settings in order to redirect the users to a hacker-controlled page: the default search engine, new tabs page and home page.

The next time the victims open their web browser windows they will be greeted by the hacker-made page which also institutes several tracking technologies: web beacons, cookies and etc. This is connected to the information gathering component of the redirects. There are two main categories of data that is grouped together:

  • Personal Data — The malicious engine hijacks data that can directly reveal the user’s identity. Examples of this includes the person’s name, address, telephone number, interests, location and etc. The collected data can then be used for identity theft or financial abuse crimes.
  • Campaign Metrics — The hackers can obtain information about the installed hardware components and certain operating system values in order to optimize the infection campaigns.

Following the successful installation of the relevant Search.startbrowser.io redirect code the associated infection engine can affect the Windows Registry. When modifications are made to the operating system entries overall performance may suffer. If the entries to any user-installed software are changed certain functions can stop working, this is also true for services.

Some forms of browser hijackers can install themselves as a persisten threat, this means that the code will start itself when the computer is booted. It may also disable other services and applications thereby rendering them non-working.

One of the most dangerous tactics associated with threats like the Search.startbrowser.io redirect is their ability to start a hacker-controlled server connection. This allows the operators to spy on the users in real time, take over control of their machines and also deploy additional threats to the infected hosts.

Once the users open their web browsers they will see a template-based home page that is modeled to look like legitimate web search engines. When the users open it up for the first time they will be prompted for their location data which will be automatically gathered via the built-in web beacon technologies. In addition various tracking cookies will be instituted that monitor their web activities.

It is made of three primary elements that are displayed on a white background:

  • Main Search Engine — It enables the users to enter in search queries which are redirected to another service. We remind our readers that all entered content may return results that may not indicate the best possible sites. Some hijackers are also known to redirect the users to malware, virus-infected or phishing sites. This is the reason why we recommend that users restore their browsers as soon as possible.
  • Web Links — Below the search engine there are several web services that are organized in a grid-like manner. They may differ according to each user and may not represent the legitimate site. In some cases security researchers report that they can redirect to a scam site.
  • Bottom Menu Bar — This part of the site contains the links to the privacy policy and terms of use documents.

Search.startbrowser.io – Privacy Policy

The privacy policy redirects the users to a document hosted on Airfind’s site. This means that the service Search.startbrowser.io redirect is either operated by them or is a partner site. Like other similar cases it starts to gather sensitive data about the users and their devices which is pooled into databases that are shared among different sites. They may be accessed for a certain fee and used to drive personalized ads to the users. By merely accessing the site places multiple tracking technology pieces onto the victim’s computers (cookies, analytics and other code). The privacy policy reveals that the following information is being harvested automatically :

  • 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 system 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 Search.startbrowser.io Browser Hijacker

To remove Search.startbrowser.io 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.

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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 Search.startbrowser.io from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Search.startbrowser.io

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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io:

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 Search.startbrowser.io. 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 Search.startbrowser.io. 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io. 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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 Search.startbrowser.io 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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