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Remove Search Protection (Free Guide) - updated Feb 2020

removal by Lucia Danes - - | Type: Browser Hijackers

Search Protection is the browser hijacker that changes homepage and default search engine settings on the web browser 

Search ProtectionSearch Protection virus is a potentially unwanted program that should improve your time online and online searches. This Spigot Inc. product belongs to applications that often get bundled, and it protects those programs, so third-party applications are not changing particular settings on the web browser that browser-based threat focuses on. Since the online traffic is important and the list of sites the person visits, the main aim of the intruder is to redirect every session to affiliated and sponsored material online that can make a profit from views and visits.[1] This is why once the PUP gets on the system, it starts rerouting you to commercial sites with the help of pop-up ads banners and links injected on the list of every online search results. Unfortunately, default settings get changed, and your search attempts automatically go to this engine instead of your default or preferred one. The browser hijacker can affect various processes on your device until all the leftover files get removed, and settings reversed back to default.

Name Search Protection
Type  Browser hijacker 
Symptoms  The program interferes with online searches and other processes involving browsing online. It focuses on redirecting the user to affiliated pages and commercial content because such websites can generate revenue for the publisher. Browser hijacker changes various settings and preferences on web browsers so it can control where the user is redirected
Distribution  Freeware installations, in most cases, include cush programs as additional content which gets installed automatically by skipping through important steps. Also, people often download these intruders from misleading advertisements and gets disappointed 
Danger  Any potentially unwanted program that is related to advertisers can be considered dangerous due to the ad-tracking function that is included on the commercial sites that show up on the screen due to the hijacking. This behavior can potentially lead to privacy issues because users' information gets tracked and collected or even misused in malvertising campaigns[2]
Elimination  Search Protection removal requires anti-malware tools no matter if you installed the tool yourself or got the PUP out of nowhere. These programs can clean all related files and applications, so the machine is clear from intruders
Repair  Potentially unwanted programs alter browser settings and install files, applications on the system to affect the performance and persistence of the intruder. Get a tool like ReimageIntego to fix issues with the system and repair registry or startup entries damaged by the hijack

Spigot Search Protection is related to fake search engines and can reroute every search through any of them, so when you notice any suspicious pages, redirects in addition to intrusive advertisements, you should pay close attention to programs that you already have installed on the machine or applications that appear out of nowhere. It is the most common way to get such PUPs with other freeware.

You should remove Search Protection as soon as you notice any suspicious symptoms, especially when the following message starts appearing on the screen:

Search Settings Change Notification
Search Protection has blocked an attempt by another program to change your default search settings.

This Search Protection pop-up states about the program that got blocked because it tried to interfere with the Spigot product. That may happen a lot, and such behavior either damages your computer, programs, or diminishes the general performance of the device. This is why it gets extremely annoying and difficult to get rid of the shady browser hijacker – all the setting changes interfere with normal functions.

Since Search Protection is related to other Spigot or Conduit products, even anti-malware engines detect this fake search engine as possibly malicious or at least suspicious, so you need to take that into consideration. It is possible that you installed the tool yourself when the misleading ad redirected you to the promotional content. You can still uninstall it, and the sooner you delete this PUP, the better.  Search Protection virusSearch Protection is the potentially unwanted program that can be related to other similar threats, so it gets detected by AV tools often. Search Protection, also known as Search Protect, is a program that was created and developed by a well-known company Spigot. It is already known for such questionable programs as Spigot Toolbar, Conduit virus, Search Protect, etc. If this program enters the computer, it drops its own registry entry and starts its work as soon as the victim reboots the computer.

In addition, it may affect all of your web browsers and then start interrupting each of your search sessions. If you noticed Search Protection redirects, suspicious pop-up ads, and even slowdowns every time after you open your Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox browser, you should be careful.

Additional Search Protection hijack symptoms may be:

  • suspicious processes running in Task Manager;
  • other products installed on the machine or the web browser without your permission;
  • random pop-ups promote programs or updates of the OS.

The most dangerous thing that could happen is that you may be redirected to a dangerous site that may be filled with suspicious content or even malware.[3] Such questionable programs have also been actively used for displaying various pop-up ads and similar activities that can hardly be ignored. Please, check your computer with reputable anti-spyware if you have the slightest thought that the Search Protection virus is hiding on your computer!

For that, we highly recommend using professional software and getting that from official sources. This Search Protection removal method will help you to make sure that all suspicious files and folders are gone, and you will never see annoying ads during your browsing. Also, remember about the Windows registry and other places that the hijacker enters behind your back. Get a program like a system optimizer or a cleaner tool ReimageIntego and repair that damage.  Search Protection hijackSearch Protection is the browser hijacker that is promoted online via deceptive sources and misleads people enough, so they install the tool themselves.  

Deceptive techniques used to spread potentially unwanted programs

Potentially unwanted programs get spread around with a help of freeware and shareware providers. The most popular method that is used for spreading this hijacker is closely related to freeware and shareware installations, which is usually filled with optional components.

If you like to choose Quick, Basic, or Recommended installation methods when downloading free programs to your computer, you can easily fall for downloading questionable browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars, etc. That's why you should always avoid these installation options.

If you want to protect yourself from any computer virus, make sure you choose Custom or Advanced installation when downloading such programs as download managers, PDF creators, and similar applications. In addition, you should always avoid clicking the Next button all the time because you may easily leave the checkmark that allows all the setting changes

Ways to get rid of Search Protection virus

Search Protection removal is the process that has a few stages because since this is a PUP, it can add other programs on the machine or install browser-based applications, change settings of the web browsing tools, and the system itself. You can get rid of the browser hijacker or the potentially unwanted program manually, but any trace of the intruder can still fill the screen with intrusive advertisements. 

This is why we recommend terminating the Search Protection virus with automatic tools designed to fight threats and malware. Even though this is an unwanted program, not a virus anti-malware tools can clean the machine fully and make sure that all suspicious programs get deleted off of the device.

In order to remove Search Protection or other browser hijackers from your computer manually, use the guide which is given below. There are guides for each browser that shows the resetting to default instructions. Getting back to normal settings improves performance and time online significantly.

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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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
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 Search Protection, follow these steps:

Delete Search Protection from Windows systems

Get rid of the hijacker and clean the machine fully from  Search Protection traces

  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 Search Protection and related programs
    Here, look for Search Protection 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 Search Protection 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 '' 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 Search Protection from Mac OS X system

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

Remove Search Protection from Applications folder:

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

Uninstall Search Protection 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 Search Protection 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,
  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 Search Protection removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Remove Search Protection 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 Search Protection-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

Erase Search Protection 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 Search Protection 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 Search Protection removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Get rid of Search Protection from Google Chrome

Reset the browser and clean Search Protection-related applications

  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 Search Protection 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 Search Protection removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Delete Search Protection 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 Search Protection 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 Search Protection, 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 Search Protection 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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