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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 ReimageIntego

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 ReimageIntego.

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 ReimageIntego. 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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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

If your macOS is displaying some infection symptoms, proceed with the following guide:

Remove Enhanced Search from Applications folder:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for Enhanced Search-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 Enhanced Search, 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 related to Enhanced Search and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the Enhanced Search-related entries.Uninstall from Mac 2

Eliminate Enhanced Search from Internet Explorer (IE)

Remove dangerous add-ons:

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top-right corner of the browser
  2. Pick Manage Add-ons.
  3. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Enhanced Search and other suspicious plugins. Click on these entries and select Disable.Remove add-ons from Internet Explorer

Change your homepage if it was altered:

  1. Open IE and click on the Gear icon.
  2. Select Internet Options.
  3. In the General tab, delete the Home page address and replace it by your preferred one (for example, Google.com).
  4. Click Apply and then select OK.Reset IE homepage

Delete temporary files:

  1. Press on the Gear icon and select Internet Options.
  2. Under Browsing history, click Delete…
  3. Select relevant fields and press Delete.Clear temporary files from Internet Explorer

Reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Click on Gear icon > Internet options and select Advanced tab.
  2. Select Reset.
  3. In the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Enhanced Search removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Erase Enhanced Search from Microsoft Edge

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

Delete unwanted extensions from 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 Enhanced Search-related extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom.Remove extensions from Edge

Clear cookies and other browser data:

  1. Click on the Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and select Privacy & security.
  2. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  3. Select everything (apart from passwords, although you might want to include Media licenses as well, if applicable) and click on Clear.Clear Edge browsing data

Reset MS Edge if that above steps did not work:

  1. Press on Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details arrow at the bottom of the window.
  3. Select Details tab.
  4. Now scroll down and locate every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right-click on each of them and select End Task to stop MS Edge from running.Reset MS Edge

If this solution failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method. Note that you need to backup your data before proceeding.

  1. Find the following folder on your computer: C:\\Users\\%username%\\AppData\\Local\\Packages\\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  2. Press Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all folders.
  3. Right-click on them and pick DeleteAdvanced MS Edge reset 1
  4. Now right-click on the Start button and pick Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  5. When the new window opens, copy and paste the following command, and then press Enter:

    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\\AppXManifest.xml” -VerboseAdvanced MS Edge reset 2

Instructions for Chromium-based Edge

Delete extensions from MS Edge (Chromium):

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

Clear cache and site data:

  1. Click on Menu and go to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy and services.
  3. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  4. Under Time range, pick All time.
  5. Select Clear now.Clear browser data from Chroum Edge

Reset Chromium-based MS Edge:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. On the left side, pick Reset settings.
  3. Select Restore settings to their default values.
  4. Confirm with Reset.Reset Chromium Edge

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

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
Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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