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Remove Enhanced Search (Removal Guide) - updated Jan 2020

removal by Olivia Morelli - -   Also known as Enhanced Search hijack, Enhanced Search virus | Type: Browser Hijackers

Enhanced Search is a browser hijacker created to generate money from sponsored content displayed to users

Enhanced Search virusEnhanced Search is a type of browser infection that displays ads and shows sponsored links

Enhanced Search is a browser hijacker[1] that typically spreads as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. Created by an Israeli-based company Babylon Ltd., it is one of many browser hijackers that claims to “enhance the search results and quickly help users find what they are looking for.” However, the Enhanced Search is usually installed without asking for direct user permission and focuses on directing users to affiliated sites and displaying ads.

Once installed, Enhanced Search sets the homepage and the new tab address of the web browser to enhanced-search.com, which also appends a customized search engine. As a result, most of the users input their search queries via a hijacked engine, which returns altered search results, i.e., sponsored links and ads are the ones that users see first, and organic results are displayed below. Each click on sponsored links guarantees Enhanced Search developers profit – all while users must battle the unwanted ads.

Name Enhanced Search
Type Browser hijacker, potentially unwanted program
Developer Israeli company Babylon Ltd.
Homepage enhanced-search.com
Distribution  Potentially unwanted programs are usually propagated via software bundle packages or downloaded intentionally from third-party websites 
Symptoms  Homepage, new tab URL is set to enhanced-search.com, a customized search engine applied, sponsored links plague search results, ads appear on sites that usually don't show them, etc. 
Dangers  Installation of other potentially unwanted programs, sensitive data disclosure, malware infection, etc. 
Removal  Use anti-malware program capable of detecting PUPs or delete the app manually – follow the guide in our removal section 
Recovery & optimization For best results, we recommend resetting all the installed browsers as per instructions below and scanning the machine with repair software Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego

Browser hijackers were extremely popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s, as users were still unaware of what activities toolbars, browser extensions, and other useless programs perform. Each of these add-ons would augment browsers with a search bar, each of which would serve ads regardless of the provided search engine is used. As a result, users' browsers were cluttered, and quite often, such toolbars and add-ons were dangerous, leading users to malware-laden or scam sites. It is not surprising that terms like “Enhanced Search virus” were prevalent at the time.

Essentially, a virus is a malicious program that uses system or application files to propagate, infecting, and sometimes taking over the computer system entirely. While it is not the case with browser hijackers, the rerouting tendencies, mysterious (and sudden) change of the homepage and new tab cause many to get convened – and for a reason. Unfortunately, Enhanced Search removal might not be as simple as it might seem, as some developers program the add-on to be grayed out once it is implemented, which complicates everything for regular users.

EnhancedSearch.comEnhancedSearch.com is a browser hijacker that uses cookies in order to collect anonymous data about users

In some cases, EnhancedSearch.com might be installed as a standalone application that must be uninstalled via the Control Panel or Applications folder on Macs. However, the persistent extensions might require a browser reset or, in some cases, even a scan with anti-malware software. In any case, if you found an unwanted extension on your browser, you should check the instructions we provide below. As for system optimization and recovery after the infection, we also suggest using Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego.

Those who decide to keep the Enhanced Search PUP installed on their system should be aware that persistent ads and sponsored links are not the only activity the hijacker performs. In the background, a particular set of information is collected with the help of cookies and other tracking technologies in order to feed users targeted ads.[2] It includes:

  • Operating system information
  • Installed browsers and their versions
  • Country of origin
  • Search terms
  • Sites visited, etc.

Luckily, the popularity of such browser hijackers like EnhancedSearch.com greatly diminished, as modern browsers became safer – they now notify about changes that an external source is trying to make, and users can decline them with just one click. However, you should also remember that you need to remove Enhanced Search hijacker from your machine regardless if you accepted the change or not, or it will continue its background activities.

Note that Babylon Ltd. has created multiple other browser hijackers that work identically (for example, Opti-Page.com, Clean.shield-plus.comSearch.movies-tab.com, and many others)  – enter users' computers without permission, alter web browser settings, show non-organic search results, and display other commercial content during web browsing sessions.

All in all, do not trust the “search result enhancing” programs like EnhancedSearch.com, as they bring no value apart from intrusive advertisements, and might also lead to unsafe sites in some cases, resulting in money loss, malware infections, or other unfavorable consequences.

Potentially unwanted programs are hidden inside software bundles – here's how to avoid them

Users mostly install potentially unwanted programs unintentionally while browsing third-party freeware sites. The practice lingers from early software days when not many official sources for apps were available – sites like Download.com, Softonic, and others, flourished. These sites are often filled with multiple download buttons and other confusing traits that make users download and install software they never intended to in the first place. You might want to ask why they would do such a thing? The answer is simple – money. Add developers can pay for particular promotion campaigns on the site, and might also ask site owners to insert the app into some installers distributed there.

EnhancedSearch.com sponsored resultsEnhancedSearch.com claims that it helps users find what they are looking for fast - but instead displays sponsored links to generate money from clicks

The deception does not end there, however. Once the installation wizard is launched, users are often presented with installation instructions that are confusing, include pre-ticked boxes, hidden components that are not visible without picking Advanced/Custom settings, misleading offers, deceptive button placements, and similar tricks. Therefore, if you still feel the need to download software from third-parties (especially torrent sites), despite the fact that legitimate sources have almost 2.5 million apps available,[3] you should be extremely careful and check each of the installation steps in detail.

Note that even Google cannot completely protect its stores from malicious applications,[4] and third-party sites do not have the resources to perform such extensive security checks. Thus, employ anti-malware software and be cautious when downloading new apps.

Remove Enhanced Search virus from your computer

As we have mentioned before, Enhanced Search is not classified as a malicious program; nevertheless, if you would decide to keep this search engine installed on each of your web browsers (it may affect Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and other browsers), you might be forced to visit sponsored sites that might sometimes not be what you are looking for or, provide a low-quality content.

Therefore, we suggest you remove Enhanced-search.com from your computer and use legitimate search engines that do not fill ear searches with ads and rather trust well-developed search engine mechanisms that are continually improved by tech giants like Google. If you want privacy, employ privacy-focused browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Tor.

Enhanced Search removal should not be that difficult – you can find all the relevant information below. Besides, security experts[5] recommend resetting all the installed browsers after their hijacking, as altered settings might continue the unwanted behavior.

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove Enhanced Search, follow these steps:

Remove Enhanced Search from Windows systems

To terminate potentially unwanted programs from Windows, follow these instructions:

  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 Enhanced Search and related programs
    Here, look for Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search 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.

Uninstall Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search 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'

Eliminate Enhanced Search from Internet Explorer (IE)

  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 Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Erase Enhanced Search from Microsoft Edge

You should reset MS edge as soon as you remove Enhanced Search and other potentially unwanted apps:

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, Enhanced Search should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Delete Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Get rid of Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Remove Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search 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 Enhanced Search, 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 Enhanced Search removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Choose a proper web browser and improve your safety with a VPN tool

Online spying has got momentum in recent years and people are getting more and more interested in how to protect their privacy online. One of the basic means to add a layer of security – choose the most private and secure web browser. Although web browsers can't grant a full privacy protection and security, some of them are much better at sandboxing, HTTPS upgrading, active content blocking, tracking blocking, phishing protection, and similar privacy-oriented features. 

Nevertheless, there's a way to add an extra layer of protection and create a completely anonymous web browsing practice with the help of Private Internet Access VPN. This software reroutes traffic through different servers, thus leaving your IP address and geolocation in disguise. Besides, it is based on a strict no-log policy, meaning that no data will be recorded, leaked, and available for both first and third parties. The combination of a secure web browser and Private Internet Access VPN will let you browse the Internet without a feeling of being spied or targeted by criminals. 

Recover files after data-affecting malware attacks

While much of the data can be accidentally deleted due to various circumstances, malware is also one of the main culprits that can cause loss of pictures, documents, videos, and other important files. Potentially unwanted programs may clear files that keep the application from running smoothly.

More serious malware infections lead to significant data loss when your documents, system files, or images get locked. In particular, ransomware is is a type of malware that focuses on such functions, so your files become useless without an ability to access them. Even though there is little to no possibility to recover after file-locking threats, some applications have features for data recovery in the system.

In some cases, Data Recovery Pro can also help to recover at least some portion of your data after data-locking virus infection or general cyber infection. 

 

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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