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Remove MovieSearches (Virus Removal Guide) - Chrome, Firefox, IE, Edge

removal by Lucia Danes - - | Type: Browser Hijackers

MovieSearches is a potentially unwanted application that inserts sponsored links in your search results

MovieSearchesMovieSearches is a potentially unwanted application that travels within software bundles

MovieSearches is a a browser hijacker[1] that usually spreads as a browser extension, although there might be other unwanted programs that are associated with the app. While it can be downloaded on official websites, such as Chrome Web Store, most users reported that they found this potentially unwanted program on their computers unexpectedly. To be precise, the MovieSearches hijack occurs during the installation of freeware applications downloaded from third party websites, when it is offered as an optional component in a single software bundle.

After infiltration, the PUP alters the settings of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or another web browser, and sets the homepage to portal.movie-searches.com. Due to this, users have to use a customized search engine that redirects all search results to Yahoo and fills them with sponsored ads. In the background, MovieSearches collects various data about users' web browsing habits, which might later be shared with third parties for profits.

Name MovieSearches
Type Browser hijacker, potentially unwanted programs
Distribution  Software bundles, deceptive advertisements
Symptoms
  • MovieSearches extension installed on the web browser
  • Unknown applications installed on the computer
  • The homepage and new tab address is set to portal.movie-searches.com
  • All searches redirect to search.yahoo.com
  • Search results are filled with sponsored links and ads
Risks  Installation of other potentially unwanted programs, privacy risks due to information gathering practices, financial losses
Removal You can delete unwanted programs manually as per instructions below of scan the device with anti-malware, such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes. If you want to ensure proper elimination, you should also reset your web browsers
Further steps In case your anti-malware found additional threats, you should eliminate them immediately. If you see any negative consequences on the performance of your system, you can attempt to fix virus damage with ReimageIntego repair tool

MovieSearches is just one of the apps that belong to a broader family of browser hijackers – others include SearchProConverterPDFSearchio, AllConvertersSearches, and many others. As a general rule, members of this family are virtually identical, although each of them uses a different icon and a name. Despite this, even the naming is not completely original – it is all about “converters” and “searchers.”

The so-called MovieSearches virus includes several seemingly useful components to users' disposal, which include currency converter, crypt converter, calculator, PDF converter, etc. These widgets are embedded into the front page of the hijacker in order to make users keep in installed for as long as possible.

However, these attributes are there to distract users from the main purpose of the potentially unwanted program – providing free features is just one side of the app. To reach its goals, MovieSearches takes over the installed web browser by changing the new tab and homepage portal.movie-searches.com. While such changes might not seem significant, they change fundamentally change the way you browse the web.

When you enter a phrase or a word into a web search, you are redirected to Google.com, or another provider you have chosen. As soon as a browser hijacker gets involved, it will alter this setting automatically. As a result, you might see that your searches are no longer handled by Google, but rather by Yahoo, or another provider. While these are legitimate companies, injected sponsored links have nothing to do with these tech giants, as ads are injected by the MovieSearches hijacker.

MovieSearches hijackerMovieSearches is a browser hijacker that alters homepage to portal.movie-searches.com and redirects all searches to Yahoo

Since ads are placed at the top of search results, you are more likely to click them, allowing the developers of PUP to monetize on such clicks (this scheme is called pay-per-click). Unfortunately, such practice can mislead users and make them purchase useless products and download potentially dangerous apps.

If you think that altered web browser settings and intrusive ads are not enough to remove MovieSearches from your web browser, you should check the app's privacy policy. It becomes evident that various data can be harvested and shared with some third-parties for various reasons:

The Non-Personal Information which is being collected may include technical information automatically transmitted by the user's device (for example, type of browser, the type of the user's device and technical information pertaining to the user's device, language preferences, time stamps, clicks and visited pages, search logs, the operating system, utilized internet service provider and other similar information.

Among the others, MovieSearches also collects some personal data, such as unique device identifiers and the IP address. The information is gathered thanks to tracking technologies such as cookies or web beacons.[2]

To uninstall MovieSearches, you should access your web browser's settings and delete the browser extension from there. If the hijack does not disappear, it might be that there is another potentially unwanted application hiding on your system. Search for it manually, or employ security software like SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes for a quick elimination. Also, you should scan the machine with ReimageIntego for the best results and then reset the installed browsers if required.

Browser hijackers hide within software bundles

Most users do not install browser hijackers on other potentially unwanted programs intentionally (that is why so many people are surprised when they see sudden browser changes). This is because freeware developers and third-party distributors do not adequately disclose information about third-party components within common installers. Then again, users themselves are often rushing through steps and end up missing the warning signs in the process.

To avoid potentially unwanted applications in the future, there are a few tips from cybersecurity experts:[3]

  • If possible, download applications from official websites only;
  • Do not visit torrent or similar sites that distribute software cracks and pirated programs;
  • During the installation, always opt for Advanced/Custom settings instead of Recommended/Quick ones to stay in control of the whole process;
  • Remove ticks from checkboxes (apart from the ToS agreement);
  • Install powerful anti-malware software capable of detecting potentially unwanted programs.

MovieSearches virusMovieSearches delivers sponsored links and ads on a regular basis

MovieSearches removal instructions

While browser hijackers are not generally considered as major security threats, it is important to amplify the fact that they rarely provide any real value for end-users – they change browser settings in order to feed them with ads and monetize clicks. Hence, MovieSearches removal is something that should be mandatory for everyone who values their privacy and prefers ad-free browsing.

To remove MovieSearches virus, you need to find and eliminate the browser extension or an application related to the hijack. To find the add-on, simply access your web browser's settings (for example, on Google Chrome, you should go to Menu > More Tools > Extensions). To uninstall a program, check the manual instructions below.

Note that some browser hijackers, including MovieSearches, might employ the “Managed by your organization” feature to prevent its termination. In such a case, you should reset the web browsers and scan the machine with anti-malware.

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

To remove MovieSearches, follow these steps:

Delete MovieSearches from Windows systems

To uninstall programs from Windows systems, 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 MovieSearches and related programs
    Here, look for MovieSearches 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 MovieSearches 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 MovieSearches from Mac OS X system

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

Remove MovieSearches from Applications folder:

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

Eliminate MovieSearches 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 MovieSearches 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 MovieSearches removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Get rid of MovieSearches from Microsoft Edge

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 MovieSearches-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

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

Erase MovieSearches from Google Chrome

Reset Google Chrome if you are unable to remove MovieSearches in a regular way:

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

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

Protect your privacy – employ a VPN

There are several ways how to make your online time more private – you can access an incognito tab. However, there is no secret that even in this mode, you are tracked for advertising purposes. There is 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. 

No backups? No problem. Use a data recovery tool

If you wonder how data loss can occur, you should not look any further for answers – human errors, malware attacks, hardware failures, power cuts, natural disasters, or even simple negligence. In some cases, lost files are extremely important, and many straight out panic when such an unfortunate course of events happen. Due to this, you should always ensure that you prepare proper data backups on a regular basis.

If you were caught by surprise and did not have any backups to restore your files from, not everything is lost. Data Recovery Pro is one of the leading file recovery solutions you can find on the market – it is likely to restore even lost emails or data located on an external device.

About the author
Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

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