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Remove Hao123 (Removal Guide) - updated Sep 2019

removal by Ugnius Kiguolis - - | Type: Browser Hijackers

Hao123 – a search engine that gets installed alongside adware and other PUPs and causes changes on the computer 

Hao123 virusHao123 is the news directory site that configures browser settings and sets its own search engine www.hao123.com as the default of Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, and other browsers. The page opens each time you try to use the web browser and search online. Additional redirects to commercial pages cause issues and keep users from accessing the wanted content.

This program gets installed without permission and starts affecting the speed immediately because it runs all the needed process in the background and didn't need to require any agreements for that. This intruder is considered a browser hijacker because it affects online browsing activities and focuses on redirecting the user to commercial pages by injecting in-browser search results with banners, pop-up ads, hyperlinks, in-text ads. 

Questions about Hao123

Unfortunately, such Hao123 virus behavior indicates that a potentially unwanted program is installed on your machine. It is possible that when this hijacker got bundled, other PUPs come packed together and landed on your system at the same time. You need to scan the system with anti-malware tools and remove all unwanted programs completely.

Name Hao123
ALSO KNOWN AS This virus has different domain names because it spreads around different parts of the world, os you can encounter br.hao123.com, en.hao123.com, or us.hao.123 and so on
Type Browser hijacker
Symptoms Delivers shady commercial content, injects online searches with ads, redirects to affiliated pages. The browser hijacker changes homepage, default search engine, new tab settings to www.hao123.com
Distribution Intruder gets bundled with other programs, installed from deceptive advertisements and automatically loaded by other PUPs 
Possible damage All PUPs have a feature of ad-tracking that can cause issues with privacy if the personal or identifiable data gets shared with a questionable third-party company
Elimination Remove potentially unwanted programs with ReimageIntego and clean the machine from Hao123 virus damage

Hao123 is a famous search engine designed for the Chinese market. Users have started calling it “Hao123 virus” because it has been misused by various software developers and spread with the help of bundling. After using this technique to enter the computer system, Hao123 might alter your Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers.[1] As a result, you may think that your system was hijacked, but, in fact, it is not.

In reality, Hao123 is not a virus. It was created by a well-known software developer called Baidu. However, its so-called “download client” has been actively spread together with other software, so there is no surprise that some users have been scared after finding it on the system. As a result, it can cause redirects to hao.123, hao123.it, hao123.com, en.hao.123, br.hao.123, tw.hao.123, jp.hao.123, vn.hao.123, etc.

In most of the cases, users download Hao123 Toolbar and similar components consciously from its official website. However, you can also let it enter your PC system when you fail to monitor the installation of download managers, PDF creators, and similar freeware. So, it is you are the one to blame if you found “Hao123 virus” on your computer.

This search engine is mostly propagated using bundling. It’s a software marketing method that allows spreading the program together with freeware or shareware as an optional component. The success of this method relies on the possibility to infiltrate the device unnoticed.

The Hao123 hijack is most likely to occur when users install new programs using “Quick” or “Standard” installation settings that do not openly disclose about additional components. Therefore, using this setup, you agree to install all programs that may have been included in the package.

Hao123 main pageHao123 affects search results which get filled with sponsored links and ads. If you end up seeing either of these pages, get to the removal immediately! Just like any other search tool, the search engine collects NPII, e.g. search terms, most visited websites, data that added when visiting specific websites and so on.[2] As we have said, this information is considered non-personally identifiable, but we highly recommend keeping it private. However, only Hao123 removal will help you stop such activity on your browser.

The biggest problem that is reported about Hao123 client is that it might display you altered search results. Thus, instead of finding useful information, you might need to browse through commercial notifications and links leading to the sponsored websites. The research has shown that some of these affiliates’ sites might be used to promote malware.[3] Therefore, you cannot be sure whether some unexpected Hao123.com redirect won't trick you into visiting a dangerous or unsafe[4] website.

If you are done with this Chinese search engine, you can remove Hao123 from your device instantly with ReimageIntego or another software. It’s the easiest way to get rid of all suspicious or even malicious components that might be installed on your computer.

However, search engines like this one are not hazardous cyber infections. Thus, you can also opt for the manual removal option. It doesn’t matter which version of the so-called “virus” hijacked your web browser, the main elimination principles remain the same – you need to uninstall the search engine from the system and then reset each of your web browsers.  Hao123Hao123tab.com is one of the versions in the category of browser hijackers. these are cyber intruders that affect the performance of the machine significantly.

The most popular versions of Hao123

Hao123Tab

Hao123Tab. It is a browser plug-in which places www.hao123.com instead of the start page, new tab page and default search engine. It is an unwanted program that you should remove from your computer if you noticed its presence without downloading it. This browser plug-in can also cause redirects to questionable third-party websites once the user attempts to use Hao123 search. 

Us.Hao123.com virus

Us.Hao123.com virus. Us.Hao123.com is yet another Chinese search engine that presents various suspicious clickable content. On this website, you can see a variety of links and ads, which are likely to redirect you to third party websites. In fact, this site can appear on your browser after downloading “Hao123 client” without knowing that. If your browser's settings were altered without your consent, you should remove Us.Hao123.com.

Ar.Hao123

Id.Hao.123 and ar.hao123 do not stand out much in comparison with other versions of Hao123. Their main aim is to promote the content of third-parties by displaying links and other vivid content. Here, you can find links to social networks, sports, news, and entertainment websites. Self-cautious users might get irritated by the fact that these links may redirect them to third party websites. 

Baidu.com

Baidu.com is almost the same as Hao123 because they both belong to the same developer – Baidu. However, it relies on the same distribution technique which is considered a little bit fishy, as it relies on bundling. The site has also been providing links to third party websites, so make sure to double-check what you click and pay attention while installing new programs. 

Bundling helps to install multiple shady programs at the time

Browsing on suspicious pages cannot give positive results since you are not guaranteed that there is nothing hidden on such websites, for example, scripts automatically allowing to download malware. However, automatic downloads can be encouraged during insecure freeware installation processes.

Pre-packed programs come alongside commonly gotten applications or even cracks of software, games. You cannot see those included applications if you skip through steps and allow installation to run automatically by choosing quick or recommended options.

That's why experts recommend checking every installation window carefully when setting up any program on your computer. For getting such ability, always select Custom or Advanced installation of the freeware and then uncheck all questionable checkmarks.

The guide for a proper Hao123 removal

It doesn’t matter which version of Hao123 virus appeared on your browser, you can still choose between manual or automatic elimination methods. You can find detailed and illustrated instructions at the end of the article, but we want to point out a few important manual elimination’s aspects:

  1. You have to find hijacker’s entries in the Task Manager.[5] Beware that it may use different names for preventing its elimination from the system!
  2. Delete suspicious browser add-ons, extensions, plugins and complete Hao123 removal.
  3. Reset each of the web browsers:

If this task seems too complicated for you or if you have been dealing with the continuous appearance of this unwanted program, you should switch to an automatic elimination option and remove Hao123 with the help of an anti-malware program.

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

To remove Hao123, follow these steps:

Uninstall Hao123 from Windows systems

To uninstall Hao123 from your computer, you need to eliminate all components that are related to it. You should run thru the entire programs' list and uninstall each suspicious application, such as Baidu, Adchoices, and others.

  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 Hao123 and related programs
    Here, look for Hao123 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 Hao123 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.

Eliminate Hao123 from Mac OS X system

To eliminate the hijacker from your Mac OS X, you will have to go through the list of instructions indicated below:

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

Remove Hao123 from Applications folder:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for Hao123-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 Hao123, 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 Hao123 and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the Hao123-related entries.Uninstall from Mac 2

Delete Hao123 from Internet Explorer (IE)

After completing the steps, reset the settings to ensure complete elimination of all components of the hijacker.

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 Hao123 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 Hao123 removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Erase Hao123 from Microsoft Edge

When you eliminate the pup from you PC, you will also have to reset your browser in order to eliminate the last bits of the virus activity on your PC. You can reset MS Edge browser like explained below:

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 Hao123-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

Get rid of Hao123 from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Our experts explain how to reset Mozilla Firefox and regain control of your browser here:

  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 Hao123 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 Hao123 removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Remove Hao123 from Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a browser which most likely suffers most of browser hijacker attacks. To get rid of Hao123, restore your web engine to its previous state.

  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 Hao123 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 Hao123 removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Uninstall Hao123 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 Hao123 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 Hao123, 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 Hao123 removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address.

If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for the server or network manager that needs to monitor connections and activities. VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world.

 

Recover files after data-affecting malware attacks

While much of the data can be accidentally deleted due to various reasons, malware is one of the main culprits that can cause loss of pictures, documents, videos, and other important files. More serious malware infections lead to significant data loss when your documents, system files, and images get encrypted. 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
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

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References
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