Remove Mystartsearch.com Hijacker form Chrome, Firefox and IE

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This page aims to help Internet users with removing mystartsearch.com hijacker from their browsers. These instructions work for all Windows versions.

Landing on a completely unknown, suspiciously designed website by simply launching one of their browsers might be perceived as shocking, or, at least, bewildering by many Internet users. Therefore, if your Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer have lately begun to load Mystartsearch.com on start-up, it is only understandable that you feel somewhat confused. It is one of the countless malicious applications known as browser hijackers, which literally swarm the World Wide Web nowadays, and you have been misled into unknowingly downloading it.

What Exactly Is Mystartsearch.com?

Similarly to many identical computer contaminants, Mystartsearch.com is broadly known by the name of the website it illicitly redirects Internet traffic to.

Its layout is simple, obviously purposely built to visually resemble Google’s design. Matter-of-factly, the search field which is centrally placed simply redirects queries to Google’s search engine. What is more disturbing, however, is the presence of multiple, differently formatted banners which introduce potentially dangerous ads by shady advertising networks. Additionally, there is a fake alert dialog which in fact leads to a fraudulent Web page that tries to scare users into downloading a known adware application – NewPlayer. All in all, the website is simultaneously useless and unsafe.

remove mystartsearch.com
Mystartsearch.com hijacked homepage

Mystartsearch.com browser hijacker is the malicious application which technically powers the entire fraud. Following a proven-to-work pattern, it sneaks onto target systems unnoticed, and modifies the settings of all installed browsers, replacing their default start-up page, new tab and search engine provider values with the URL of its own website. This is done with the purpose to (forcefully) generate and sell Internet traffic as well as to increase the number of clicks on advertising items such as banners. Cybercriminals are usually greedy, and the creators of Mystartsearch.com (who.is privacy protected, nevertheless, identified as a “privately owned company based in Asia”) don’t make an exception. In order to further monetize their malicious program, they have also coded it to extract, intercept and collect browsing- and system-related information as well as sensitive personal data which is probably sold to data brokers or other ill-intended third parties (such as individuals who buy stolen credit card numbers on illegal DarkNet markets).

Mystartsearch.com Distribution

  • Software Bundling

The most typical propagation method which mystartsearch.com browser hijacker employs is software bundling. It is the practice of integrating a few freeware programs into one single, customized installer (also known as a wrapper). Bundles usually rely on one main legitimate program to serve as a bait and a couple of additional features (which if not necessarily harmful, are inevitably useless) who the bundle creator/vendor distributes for a pay. Since users wouldn’t normally agree to stuff their PCs with needless software junk, download portals’ operators and software developers deliberately build their installers in a way that is completely misleading, changing the logical order in which subsequent installation menus appear, strongly highlighting the setup option which secretly co-installs unwanted applications, and presenting (if providing it at all) information on the additional items in extremely tiny fine print. What is very irritating is that software bundles are not built to offer opt-in, but opt-out concerning additional programs such as browser hijackers, toolbars and spyware. This is why whenever you want to install a free program, you should proceed with great caution. First, it is greatly preferable to download the desired application directly from its manufacturer’s website. Although this won’t 100% protect you from malware (since many software developers bundle their creations with unwanted programs themselves) it will at least save you from mistakenly clicking the notorious big, green fake download buttons which popular freeware hosting websites are infamous for. Second, you should NEVER choose any other installation method other than the ADVANCED or CUSTOM install. It will allow you to manually go through each step of the procedure, and if you follow commonsense, you should be able to detect and discharge any unneeded “bonus offers” that you stumble upon.

  • Malicious Adverts, Spam E-Mails, Drive-by Downloads

Among the other notable black hat distribution methods which mystartsearch.com might try to use in order to spread even further across the Internet count following:

  1. Malicious Adverts can be found on specially designed websites as well as on big, reputable advertising networks. You are greatly advised to always pay increased attention when you bump into a colorful banner which either promises you something at no cost or prompts you to conduct an immediate virus scan with an unknown pseudo-security program. Fake online video players are also a common way of dispersing malware;
  2. Spam E-Mail campaigns are a classic means of infecting remote computers with malware. Although there haven’t been reports yet that mystartsearch.com use this deceptive technique, it is still a good point to remind you to never open files or follow links from messages that you receive from third parties which are not fully trusted;
  3. Drive-by Downloads are not the likeliest way in which mystartsearch.com’s creators might decide to broaden their distribution strategies, however, since botnet operators and exploit kit/Trojan actors tend to work for hire (i.e. install third party malicious programs on demand), it is an option which is open.

What Makes Mystartsearch.com Harmful?

Altered Browser Preferences

Mystartsearch.com is built and spawned into the Internet with the clear intention to generate the greatest possible profit within the shortest period of time. Understandably, it is tailored to affect all major browsers. This means, upon sneaking onto your computer, it affects Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer simultaneously, replacing your preferred start-up page, new tab and search engine provider settings with its own. This is a severe interference in the way you are used to operating your browsers that should not be tolerated.

Promotion Of Malicious Content

By continuously forcing you on its homepage, mystartsearch.com doesn’t only impair your freedom to browse the Internet as you like doing so, but also exposes you to a incalculable variety of additional security threats because it website is focused on promoting advertisements which lead to harmful software downloads and dangerous Internet locations which can either infect you with malware, or try to scam you out of your money (phishing fraud, ransomware, rogue security software, etc.).

Tracking, Data Theft

Another extremely worrying aspect of mystartsearch.com browser hijacker is that it also coded to track your browsing habits (visited websites, online searches, etc.) as well as to extract information such as your IP, geographic location or software setup. These are sold to third parties which either directly misuse them (for targeted spam advertising campagns), or resell them further. Problematically, sensitive data such as login credentials or banking-related details are also unprotected from the threat, therefore you shouldn’t only get rid of mystartsearch.com, but also make sure your online accounts are not compromised.

Mystartsearch.com Homepage Hijacker Removal Instructions

Navigation:
1: Enter Safe Mode.
2: Remove mystartsearch.com from Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Edge.
3: Remove malicious attachments to browser shortcuts.
4: Uninstall the malware from your Add/Remove Programs.
5: Permanently delete the virus from Task Manager’s processes.
6: Uninstall the threat from Regedit and Msconfig.

In order to get rid of mystartsearch.com, please refer to the following step-by-step removal instructions for each of your browsers. Please note that you also have to manually restore their desktop shortcuts to their original state.

STEP-1 Before starting the real removal process, you must reboot in Safe Mode. If you are familiar with this task, skip the instructions below and proceed to Step 2. If you do not know how to do it, here is how to reboot in Safe mode:

For Windows 98, XP, Millenium and 7:
Reboot your computer. When the first screen of information appears, start repeatedly pressing F8 key. Then choose Safe Mode With Networking from the options.
Safe Mode with Networking
For Windows 8/8.1
Click the Start button, next click Control Panel —> System and Security —> Administrative Tools —> System Configuration.‌
Windows 8 Safe Mode with Network
Check the Safe Boot option and click OK. Click Restart when asked.
For Windows 10
Open the Start menu and click or tap on the Power button.
win10 safemode 1
While keeping the Shift key pressed, click or tap on Restart.
win10 safemode 2

STEP-2Mystartsearch.com hijacks the homepage of Chrome, Firefox and IE. Please, follow the guide precisely. If you miss some of the steps below, there is a chance that mystartsearch.com will come back at a later moment. Here are the steps you must follow to remove the hijacker from the browser:

Remove mystartsearch.com From Mozilla Firefox:

Open Firefox, click on top-right corner , click Add-ons, hit Extensions next.
firefox extensions
Look for suspicious or unknown extensions, remove them all.

Remove mystartsearch.com From Chrome:

Open Chrome, click chrome menu icon at the top-right corner —>More Tools —> Extensions. There, identify the malware and select chrome-trash-icon(Remove).
chrome extensions

Remove the Hijacker From Internet Explorer:
Open IE, then click IE gear icon on the top-right corner —> Manage Add-ons.
ie gear
Find the malicious add-on. Remove it by pressing Disable.

STEP-3

Right click on the browser’s shortcut, then click Properties. Remove everything after the .exe” in the Target box.

ff shortcut

STEP-4

Open Control Panel by holding the Win Key and R together. Write appwiz.cpl in the field, then click OK.

appwiz

Here, find any program you had no intention to install and uninstall it.

STEP-5

Run the Task Manager by right clicking on the Taskbar and choosing Start Task Manager.

task manager

Look carefully at the file names and descriptions of the running processes. If you find any suspicious one, search on Google for its name, or contact me directly to identify it. If you find a malware process, right-click on it and choose End task.

STEP-6

Open MS Config by holding the Win Key and R together. Type msconfig and hit Enter.

msconfig

Go in the Startup tab and Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer.

Still can not remove mystartsearch.com from your browser? Please, leave a comment below, describing what steps you performed. I will answer promptly.

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Daniel Stoyanov
Daniel Stoyanov has a Master's degree in Computer Science from the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria. He is also a Microsoft Certified Professional. Daniel provides top cyber security news with in-depth coverage of malware, vulnerabilities, PC and Network security, online safety.If you have any questions feel free to ask him right now.

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