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Linkey. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Julie Splinters - - | Type: Browser hijacker

Linkey – a browser hijacker which is still causing problems to Windows and Mac OS X users

The picture of Linkey virus
Linkey virus is a potentially unwanted program developed by Aztec Media Inc. It has been spreading around since 2015.

Linkey is a browser extension created by Aztec Media Inc. It is known as a browser hijacker which has been filled with the features of the adware.[1] Thus, instead of improving the browsing experience, this tool cause numerous problems, such as:

  • changed the homepage to default-search.net;
  • bing.com set as default search engine;
  • installation of cookies and data tracking;[2]
  • delivery of aggressive ads;
  • redirecting to suspicious websites;
  • causing system slowdowns and freezing the browser.

Questions about Linkey

Linkey might affect the major web browsers that are installed on Windows and Mac computers. Typically, it finds its way to the computer when it arrives in a bundle with freeware and shareware as a “free addition” or “additional download.” There is no surprise why this ad-supported program manages to hijack so many computer systems – numerous free applications distribute it. 

Name Linkey
Developer Aztec Media Inc.
Type Browser hijacker
Detected for the first time 2015
Operating systems affected Windows; Mac
Compatible with web browsers Chrome, Firefox, IE
Main distribution method Bundling
Related search engines
  • Linkeyproject.com;
  • Search.linkeymac.com;
  • Default-search.net.
Main dangers
  • Redirects to sponsored sites;
  • Fills your search results with ads;
  • Tracks personal and non-personally identifiable information;
  • Uses tricky techniques to prevent removal.
Elimination Uninstall Linkey from the system and run Reimage to make sure that there are no leftover files 

In order to avoid Linkey hijack, you have to pay more attention to the installation process of such free programs and find the check mark that says that you agree to install this program on your computer.

If Linkey virus manages to enter its target PC system, it shows up on all web browsers that are installed on it. That’s because it's compatible with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other popular Internet browsers.

In addition, it starts collecting data that is related to the victim's search sessions and then begins to display annoying pop-up ads. After clicking them, you may be redirected to its affiliate sites, which might be unreliable.[3] Some third-party websites can reveal content that can appear to be dangerous, so it is better to hurry up with Linkey Mac removal or eliminate it from Windows OS.

If you don't want to be bombarded by ads that seek to push you into visiting unknown, unsafe, questionable and suspicious places, you should remove Linkey virus from your computer. For that, we highly recommend using reputable anti-spyware that is capable of finding and eliminating such apps without delay. Use Reimage to see if your system is infected.

Mac OS is a new target of Linkey

PUPs rarely attack Mac users. However, this time people should not overlook Linkey ads that might disturb browsing sessions. This nasty adware has been noticed spreading and causing problems for Apple product users as well. On Macintosh devices, adware acts similarly like on Windows. It displays ads, redirects to potentially dangerous third-party sites and tracks browsing-related information.

However, users report that they cannot uninstall Linkey from Mac. The problem might be related to the extension’s ability to make system modifications or installing additional components to protect it. Therefore, even if you uninstall this add-on from Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome or another web browser, you might find it again after rebooting the device.

Thus, if you are looking for a way how to remove Linkey from Mac computer, we can assure that the best way to do it is to use reputable anti-malware software. Running a full system scan with an updated tool will quickly clean all malicious components from the device.

Browser hijackers related to the PUP

Search.linkeymac.com

Search.linkeymac.com is a fake search provider which has been exceptionally attacking Mac computers. This browser hijacker presents itself as a reliable way to reach the most popular sites on the Internet. It provides such categories as Search, Images, Videos, Shopping, News, and Games. However, according to the Privacy Policy of the site, the site might be used to collect personal information:

You can use the Site and access software without providing any Personal Information (defined below). However, in connection with other activities through the Site, you may be asked to provide certain personally identifiable information, which may include your name, email address, age, gender, address, telephone number(s), areas of interest, login name, login password and other self-identifying information (all “Personal Information”). 

Additionally, this collected data can be shared with third parties seeking to misuse it for financial benefit. As a result, you can notice more spam in your email inbox, more ads appearing while you are browsing the web, etc. Having in mind that spam is almost the most popular method used by ransomware to infiltrate the systems, we do NOT recommend revealing such data.[4]

Linkeyproject.com

Linkeyproject.com is yet another browser hijacker related to the Aztec Media Inc. company. It was spotted in 2015, but it seems that it is still actively spread via bundled downloads. The site is filled with numerous links leading users to third-party sites. Most of them are safe. However, the search results provided by this PUP can be filled with sponsored links that can end up on unsafe websites. We highly recommend avoiding this search provider.

Linkey travels with the help of free programs

We have already mentioned how people are tricked into installing this adware on their computers. It can be downloaded voluntarily, or it may show up on the system after downloading freeware and shareware.[5] To avoid a similar situation in the future, you should start monitoring the installation of every freeware. Les Virus[6] security team provide these short and simple tips:

  • Select only Custom or Advanced installation option when downloading video streaming software, download managers, and similar applications.
  • Deselect agreements to install bundled software.
  • Unmark all pre-selected agreements to change your homepage or search engine.

Therefore, if you are wondering what is Linkey on my computer or where did it come from, you should think about recently downloaded and installed software. This ad-supported application probably sneaked to your device with it.

Get rid of Linkey in Mac and Windows to go back to safe browsing

People often complain that Linkey uninstall fails and that they are unable to get rid of the program. It seems that this computer pest roots deeply in the system or uses advanced techniques to prevent users from uninstalling it. This problem might occur on both Windows and Mac OS.

Therefore, to remove Linkey virus, we strongly recommend using the malware removal software. It’s a quickest and easiest method to delete the program together with all its browser helper objects and similar entries that are typically hidden in the system and are used to prevent virus elimination.

If you do not have such software, you can to delete the virus manually by following Linkey removal guidelines that we have prepared. Please, make sure you uninstall each of its components and then use tools given below to double check the system for hidden components. Let us know how did the whole removal procedure go.

You can remove virus damage automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. We recommend these applications because they detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Supported versions Compatible with OS X Supported versions
What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is recommended to remove virus damage. 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.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove Linkey, follow these steps:

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Delete Linkey from Windows systems

Manual virus removal guidelines are presented below:

  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 Linkey and related programs
    Here, look for Linkey 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 Linkey 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 Linkey from Mac OS X system

To remove Linkey from Mac OS X, you need to find all malicious programs that could be related to it. Typically, you should find apps that you don't know or can't remember installing.

  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 Linkey 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 Linkey from Internet Explorer (IE)

To remove all adware-related files and browser helper objects from Internet Explorer, you should follow these steps:

  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 Linkey 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 Linkey 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

Remove Linkey from Microsoft Edge

Reset Microsoft Edge to fix this web browser:

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, Linkey should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of Linkey from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Uninstall hijacker-related add-ons from Firefox and reset the browser.

  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 Linkey 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 Linkey removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Erase Linkey from Google Chrome

Remove Linkey from Goole Chrome extensions and reset the browser by following these instructions:

  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 Linkey 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 Linkey removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Delete Linkey from Safari

These guidelines will help you to clean Safari from the virus:

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

About the author

Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - Malware removal specialist

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References

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