Cool Search browser hijacker (virus) - Free Guide

Cool Search browser hijacker Removal Guide

What is Cool Search browser hijacker?

Cool Search changes the main settings of the browser forcing people to use only selected channels

Cool SearchCool Search does not provide any benefits to users

Cool Search is a browser hijacker that can change the main settings, like the homepage, new tab address, and search engine. Even though it changes the background of the homepage into a cool interactive animation, there are no other benefits to this application.

It takes over the browsing experience by forcing users to search through a fake search engine that displays the results from Google. The extension can also cause an increased amount of commercial content, like pop-ups, banners, and redirects.

Crooks may use rogue advertising networks[1] that place ads leading to dangerous websites. As a result, people may end up on scam pages that try to lure out personal information, trick them into downloading PUPs (potentially unwanted programs),[2] and even malware.

NAME Cool Search
TYPE Browser hijacker; potentially unwanted program
SYMPTOMS When a browser gets hijacked, usually the main settings get changed – the homepage, new tab address, and search engine; additionally, users can experience an increased amount of commercial content
DISTRIBUTION Shady websites, deceptive ads, redirects, freeware installations
DANGERS The application might gather various browsing-related information, which raises many user security and privacy concerns
ELIMINATION You can remove an unwanted extension in the settings of the browser; deploying professional security software to scan the machine is recommended
FURTHER STEPS Use ReimageIntego to try to repair any remaining damage and optimize the machine to fix performance issues

Distribution methods

Although it is unknown how exactly Cool Search has infected users, there are some general tactics that fraudsters use to spread hijackers online. Mainly, users download bogus plugins by browsing through shady websites. The web is full of fake download sites that use social engineering.[3]

You should only use official web stores and developer sites whenever you want to install extensions. Apps that get listed on digital marketplaces go through an extensive review process. However, you should still do your research – read the reviews, look at the ratings and the number of users.

Software installations from third-party sources, like freeware[4] distribution platforms, can lead to PUP infections. They include bundled software in the installers without disclosing it clearly. Most people skip through the steps and do not notice the additional programs.

You should always choose the “Custom” or “Advanced” installation method, read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use to find out what the program will be capable of. The most important step is to check the file list and untick the boxes next to any items that seem unrelated.

Cookies can be used to track your browsing

Cool Search browser hijackerCool Search may track users browsing activities with cookies

Web-based applications can also track users browsing activities. If you care about your privacy, you should always read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use sections of the services and products you use. The tracking is executed by cookies which are small data files stored in your machine.

They can keep track of data like your IP address, geolocation, websites you visit, links you click on, and things you purchase online. That is why security experts recommend clearing cookies and cache regularly. The task can be made easy with a maintenance tool like ReimageIntego.

The repair software will fully clear your browsers from cookies and cache, which will result in better performance of your machine. Besides that, it can fix various complicated system errors that are caused by corrupted files, and registry issues, which is especially helpful after a virus infection.

The removal process

The first thing you should do is go to your browser settings and check if you see any extensions named Cool Search or suspicious-looking add-ons in general. You can follow our guide if you need help:

Google Chrome

  • Open Google Chrome, click on the Menu (three vertical dots at the top-right corner) and select More tools > Extensions.
  • In the newly opened window, you will see all the installed extensions. Uninstall all the suspicious plugins that might be related to the unwanted program by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chrome

MS Edge:

  1. Select Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and pick Extensions.
  2. From the list, pick the extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom.Remove extensions from Edge

MS Edge (Chromium)

  • Open Edge and click select Settings > Extensions.
  • Delete unwanted extensions by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chromium Edge

Mozilla Firefox

  • Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click on the Menu (three horizontal lines at the top-right of the window).
  • Select Add-ons.
  • In here, select unwanted plugin and click Remove.Remove extensions from Firefox

Safari

  • Click Safari > Preferences…
  • In the new window, pick Extensions.
  • Select the unwanted extension and select Uninstall.Remove extensions from Safari

Get rid of potentially unwanted programs

Unfortunately, the first removal method may not have worked for everyone. The hijacking could have also been caused by a PUA. If the previous removal method did not get rid of the symptoms, you most likely have a potentially unwanted program performing tasks in the background.

In this case, simply removing the plugin from the browser will not help, and the application will keep messing up the settings until you completely eliminate it from your system. However, identifying the program responsible for hijacking your browser might be difficult if you have never done this before.

Crooks often disguise PUPs as “handy” tools that you would not even suspect. It could look like an antivirus, system optimizer, media player, or else. They get included in the installation process without the users' knowledge. You should avoid installing software from freeware distribution platforms.

If you are unsure what to do and do not want to risk eliminating the wrong files, we suggest using professional security tools. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes can scan your machine, identify suspicious processes running in your machine, eliminate them, and prevent such infections in the future by giving you a warning before a malicious program can make any changes. If manual removal is what you still prefer, we have instructions for Windows and Mac machines:

Windows 10/8:

  1. Enter Control Panel into Windows search box and hit Enter or click on the search result.
  2. Under Programs, select Uninstall a program.Uninstall from Windows 1
  3. From the list, find the entry of the suspicious program.
  4. Right-click on the application and select Uninstall.
  5. If User Account Control shows up, click Yes.
  6. Wait till uninstallation process is complete and click OK.Uninstall from Windows 2

Windows 7/XP:

  1. Click on Windows Start > Control Panel located on the right pane (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs).
  2. In Control Panel, select Programs > Uninstall a program.Uninstall from Windows 7/XP
  3. Pick the unwanted application by clicking on it once.
  4. At the top, click Uninstall/Change.
  5. In the confirmation prompt, pick Yes.
  6. Click OK once the removal process is finished.

Mac:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for all related entries.
  3. Click on the app and drag it to Trash (or right-click and pick Move to Trash)Uninstall from Mac 1

To fully remove an unwanted app, you need to access Application Support, LaunchAgents, and LaunchDaemons folders and delete relevant files:

  1. Select Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Enter /Library/Application Support and click Go or press Enter.
  3. In the Application Support folder, look for any dubious entries and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the related .plist files.Uninstall from Mac 2
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Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

How to prevent from getting browser hijacker

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Anti-malware specialist

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References