Severity scale:  
  (20/100)

CoolWebSearch. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Jake Doevan - -   Also known as Cool Web Search redirect, CoolWebSearch virus | Type: Browser hijacker

CoolWebSearch – an infamous browser hijacker that bullies web users

CoolWebSearch browser hijacker
CoolWebSearch is a potentially unwanted application which is considered to be one of the most aggressive browser hijackers ever created

CoolWebSearch is a notorious potentially unwanted program that takes place in cybersecurity history as the nastiest browser hijacker[1] ever created. This cyber threat is known to enter Google Chrome or Internet Explorer and modify their settings without warning. Soon after that, the hijacker redirects all searches to Coolwebsearch.com or other questionable sites. The hazardous program comes in a variety of versions (107 to be precise),[2]  all of them using a different code, but behaving very similarly. During its reign in 2005, it infected over 8% of PCs worldwide, which is a massive amount.

Summary
Name CoolWebSearch
Type Browser hijacker
Versions Over 100 created
First appeared in May 2003
Affected browsers Internet Explorer and Google Chrome
Operating system Windows
Distribution Software bundling, fake ads, malicious sites
Symptoms Altered homepage and new tab URL, intrusive adverts and redirects, modifies search results, etc.
Main dangers Malware infection, sensitive data leakage, etc.
Elimination Download and install Reimage; alternatively, you can also try manual removal

Cool Web Search malware is considered to be one of the most aggressive browser hijackers ever made. As soon as it hijacks the browser, it installs multiple dubious bookmarks to porn sites, introduces browser helper objects (BHO) as well as creates shortcuts on the desktop. What is more, it considerably slows down the browser and internet speed. Thus, security experts[3] advise users to remove CoolWebSearch from their machines immediately.

The most annoying feature of this browser hijacker is the advertising content display, as well as its frequency. Users are often bothered by multiple pop-up windows or redirects that occur on a daily basis and conceal the content of legitimate websites. What is more, CoolWebSearch hijack considerably slows down your computer and may even crash your operating system. Additionally, internet speed can be affected too, and getting to even the simplest websites might take a substantial amount of time.

Just like any other browser hijacker, CoolWebSearch can track a variety of non-personally identifiable information, such as:

  • IP address (note: this data may be considered personal, depending on where you live)
  • Internet service provider
  • Technical information
  • Search queries
  • Websites visited
  • Bookmarks added
  • Links clicked, etc.

This data is invaluable for any marketing firm, as it is used as a tool to generate a virtual ID about every user, and display targeted advertisement, making users buy from sponsored retailers. This way, traffic to unknown websites is boosted, and the sponsors manage to sell their products or services much easier. The sad part is, that a lot of these products may be bogus, or end up being a complete scam.

Developers of CoolWebSearch acted like malware authors – they engaged in DDoS attacks

Adding to all this, there is a much darker side to this browser hijacker. When the unwanted program first appeared on the web, it was challenging to eliminate. Since it modified registry entries, it managed to stay on the PC as long as possible, and users failed to remove Cool Web Search spyware, no matter what they did. In some cases, only a completed replacement of Windows registry with the previous version helped. What is more, cybercrooks used ByteVerify exploit[4] to inject their malicious software.

Back in 2004, a Dutch student Merjin Bellekom created a CoolWebSearch removal tool called CWShredder. It got rid of the program fast, and developers of the browser hijacker hated it. Therefore, the bad actors used Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to target websites hosting this anti-spyware tool. Countless versions of the application came out, just to counter CWS malware updates.

Fortunately, the tools created back then are already outdated, and if you need to deal with CoolWebSearch, you can use Reimage or Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus – these anti-malware applications can get rid of the annoying pest in just a few minutes.

CoolWebSearch virus
CoolWebSearch - a malicious program that can change your homepage and continually display ads

Over 100 versions of CoolWebSearch created

 As we already mentioned, there are over a hundred versions of CoolWebSearch, among them being  Websearch.helpmefindyour.info, Websearch.eazytosearch.info,  Websearch.simplespeedy.info, and many others. Although all of them use a different code, the main goal remains – to redirect users to questionable websites and generate revenue. Here are the two most wide-spread versions on the internet:

CoolWebSearch.control

CoolWebSearch.control is one of the first versions of Cool Web Search, and it aims to infiltrate as many machines as possible using software bundling technique. Additionally, users can obtain it while browsing unsafe websites, such as file-sharing or torrent sites. Just as its original version, it injects several registry entries and avoid removal and proceeds wit hits malicious activities. 

As soon as the hijacker modifies Chrome's or Internet Explorer's settings, the homepage is set to Websearch.coolwebsearch.info. Sadly users are unable to revert these changes until a full CoolWebSearch.control removal is performed. What is more, users have to suffer from continual ads and are as well being spied on by this suspicious software developers. 

Websearch.coolwebsearch.info

Websearch.coolwebsearch.info is a browser hijacker and as well a homepage which is used by many Web Cool Search virus variants. It usually injects users' machines as a drive-by installation, which means that users are unaware that the unwanted app was installed on their PC. The browser hijacker does now label its affiliates ads, as well as does not provide an EULA or privacy policy, which is a deplorable behavior what pretends to be a legitimate company.

This variant of the virus can bring users to dangerous websites, including those which can use JavaScript to inject malware into users machines. All they need to do is merely get redirected to a malicious site, and the consequences could be disastrous. Victims can get infected with spyware, trojan horse or even ransomware. The latter one can lock up (potentially permanently) files and demand ransom for its release.

Therefore, we advise users to immediately take action if any traces of this dangerous application are noticed on the machine.

Users can inject even the most dangerous browser hijackers without noticing

Typically, potentially unwanted applications spread bundled as an attachment of freeware and shareware.  It means that the only way for it to enter the PC is to get user's permission, but since components that spread along with freeware are seldom disclosed explicitly, people who are not keen on checking Advanced/Custom settings can easily end up with various unwanted add-ons, plug-ins, toolbars, and extensions.

CoolWebSearch PUP
The potentially unwanted program injects ads directly into browsers

Thus, if you want to prevent that, you have to check expanded settings carefully and deselect all 'optional downloads' without delay. Note that attachments are set by default, so you will have to untick them before clicking the 'Next' button.

Security researchers noted that suspicious programs could also be obtained on the dubious websites. Therefore, you should avoid file-sharing, torrent, porn, gambling, free online gaming and similar sites. Finally, you should never forget to employ security software with real-time protection feature to be safe.

CoolWebSearch virus removal steps

CoolWebSearch removal used to be extremely complicated when it came out back in the early 2000s. Nevertheless, the security technologies improved over the years and browser hijacker elimination became a relatively easy task. So, you can get rid of CoolWebSearch virus either manually or automatically.

Normally, we would assure that both methods are equally effective, as you can remove Cool Web Search via the control panel and then reset each of the installed browsers (instructions are presented below). However, because this browser hijacker modifies registry entries, and it can intentionally install additional components without your knowledge, we highly advise using anti-malware software. This way, you can be sure that all traces of the dubious app are eliminated.

You can remove CoolWebSearch automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareWebroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, Malwarebytes Anti Malware. We recommend these applications because they can easily delete potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

We might be affiliated with any product we recommend on the site. Full disclosure in our Agreement of Use. By Downloading any provided Anti-spyware software to remove CoolWebSearch you agree to our privacy policy and agreement of use.
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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Compatible with OS X
What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove infection using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to uninstall CoolWebSearch. Free scanner allows you to check whether your PC is infected or not. If you need to remove malware, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage malware removal tool.
More information about this program can be found in Reimage review.
Press mentions on Reimage

To remove CoolWebSearch, follow these steps:

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of CoolWebSearch from Windows systems

To eliminate Web Cool Search virus from Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs).Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall CoolWebSearch and related programs
    Here, look for CoolWebSearch or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
  5. Remove CoolWebSearch from Windows shortcuts
    Right click on the shortcut of Mozilla Firefox and select Properties. Right click on browsers' icon and select 'Properties'
  6. Go to Shortcut tab and look at the Target field. Delete malicious URL that is related to your virus. Select 'Shortcut' tab and delete 'http://isearch.babylon.com...' or other suspicious URL

Repeat steps that are given above with all browsers' shortcuts, including Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Make sure you check all locations of these shortcuts, including Desktop, Start Menu and taskbar.

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Uninstall CoolWebSearch from Mac OS X system

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for CoolWebSearch or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Eliminate CoolWebSearch from Internet Explorer (IE)

Do not forget to reset Internet Explorer as soon as the PUP is eliminated:

  1. Remove dangerous add-ons
    Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top right corner of the browser and choose Manage Add-ons. Click on menu icon and select 'Manage add-ons'
  2. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for CoolWebSearch and other suspicious plugins. Disable these entries by clicking Disable: Right click on each of malicious entries and select 'Disable'
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the gear icon (menu) on the top right corner of the browser and select Internet Options. Stay in General tab.
  4. Here, remove malicious URL and enter preferable domain name. Click Apply to save changes. Delete malicious URL, enter your desired domain name and click 'Apply' to save changes
  5. Reset Internet Explorer
    Click on the gear icon (menu) again and select Internet options. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Here, select Reset.
  7. When in the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete CoolWebSearch removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Erase CoolWebSearch from Microsoft Edge

Reset Microsoft Edge settings (Method 1):

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge app and click More (three dots at the top right corner of the screen).
  2. Click Settings to open more options.
  3. Once Settings window shows up, click Choose what to clear button under Clear browsing data option. Go to Settings and select 'Choose what to clear'
  4. Here, select all what you want to remove and click Clear. Select 'Clear' button
  5. Now you should right-click on the Start button (Windows logo). Here, select Task Manager. Open the start menu and select 'Task Manager'
  6. When in Processes tab, search for Microsoft Edge.
  7. Right-click on it and choose Go to details option. If can’t see Go to details option, click More details and repeat previous steps. Right-click 'Microsoft Edge' and select 'Go to details' Select 'More details' if 'Go to details' option fails to show up
  8. When Details tab shows up, find every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right click on each of them and select End Task to end these entries. Find Microsoft Edge entries and select 'End Task'

Resetting Microsoft Edge browser (Method 2):

If Method 1 failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method.

  1. Note: you need to backup your data before using this method.
  2. Find this folder on your computer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  3. Select every entry which is saved on it and right click with your mouse. Then Delete option. Go to Microsoft Edge folder on your computer, right-click every entry and click 'Delete'
  4. Click the Start button (Windows logo) and type in window power in Search my stuff line.
  5. Right-click the Windows PowerShell entry and choose Run as administrator. Find Windows PowerShell, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'
  6. Once Administrator: Windows PowerShell window shows up, paste this command line after PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> and press Enter:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml -Verbose}
    Copy and paste a required command and press 'Enter'

Once these steps are finished, CoolWebSearch should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Remove CoolWebSearch from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select CoolWebSearch and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the menu (top right corner), choose Options General.
  4. Here, delete malicious URL and enter preferable website or click Restore to default.
  5. Click OK to save these changes. When in 'General' tab, delete malicious URL from 'Home Page' section or click on 'Restore to Default' button. Click 'OK' to save changes
  6. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  7. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete CoolWebSearch removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Delete CoolWebSearch from Google Chrome

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select CoolWebSearch and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Change your homepage and default search engine if it was altered by your virus
    Click on menu icon and choose Settings.
  4. Here, look for the Open a specific page or set of pages under On startup option and click on Set pages. After clicking on menu and 'Settings', select 'Set pages'
  5. Now you should see another window. Here, delete malicious search sites and enter the one that you want to use as your homepage. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  6. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  7. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  8. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  9. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  10. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete CoolWebSearch removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of CoolWebSearch from Safari

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for CoolWebSearch or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Open your Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu section. Here, select Preferences as it was displayed previously and select General.
  4. Here, look at the Homepage field. If it was altered by CoolWebSearch, remove unwanted link and enter the one that you want to use for your searches. Remember to include the "http://" before typing in the address of the page. When in 'General', delete malicious URL and enter your desired domain name
  5. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  6. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete CoolWebSearch removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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