SafeSearch is a widely spread browser hijacker that infects PCs cia software bundling

The image of is a search engine that provides fake results filled with sponsored links.

The image of is a search engine that provides fake results filled with sponsored links.

SafeSearch is a group fake search engines that have been making rounds since 2014. Due to frustrating behavior or absence of certain elements, they have been classified as browser hijackers.[1] The dubious app can be downloaded from the Chrome store, as well as a SafeSearch Incognito extension. However, users will find as their homepage after they download free software from the internet – this distribution method is called software bundling.[2] Recently, the name of this hijacker returned to the headlines because of Google that presented the protection feature called SafeSearch. With its help, users can prevent the explicit content appearing in their searches. In some countries, for example Indonesia, this option is enforced by law.

Name SafeSearch
Associated webpage
Type Browser hijacker
Distribution Software bundling, Chrome store
Compatible browsers Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Safari
Symptoms Modified browser settings
Main dangers Redirects might lead to unsafe sites; data leakage
Detection and elimination For quick solution, use anti-malware software that detects PUPs; otherwise, use our manual guide below
System fix In case you suffer from system instability issues post-termination of a browser hijacker, scan your computer with Reimage Reimage Cleaner

While potentially unwanted programs are not considered to be malware, the presence on the computer might compromise its safety. Nevertheless, without knowing about it, users might be lured by quick access buttons to Amazon, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube and other popular sites. However, bookmarks can be created in just a few seconds for the desired sites; thus, there is no need to use questionable search engines like SafeSearch.

The major features of SafeSearch PUP barely differs from other infections that belong to the same category. It might:

  • affect Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer and Safari browsers;
  • replace default homepage, search engine and/or new tab URL address;
  • block well-known search engines;
  • alter search results;
  • redirect to predetermined websites;
  • install tracking cookies.[3]

The first task hijacker does on the targeted device is system modifications. It might alter Windows Registry and various shortcuts to prevent people from taking back control over the browser. Then it changes current startup page and search engine to its domain.

SafeSearch virus is mostly used for promoting third-party websites and increasing their sales or page rank on Google. However, you can hardly know how trustworthy these websites are because the developer of this hijacker fails to guarantee their trustworthiness. As a result, you can find another PUP or even virus[4] on your computer.

Besides, SafeSearch search engine may also block the access to some of your Internet resources without your permission asked and then cause unexpected advertisements or pop-ups with commercial or pornographic content.

The most disturbing fact which is related to is that it can track its victims. Just like a typical browser hijacker, it collects users’ search terms, information about most visited websites, and similar information which is related to browser habits. However, we cannot guarantee that this hijacker is not capable of tracking personal information as well.

Beware that security experts have revealed SafeSearch can update itself via the Internet, so it may also be used for tracking people and stealing personal information. If you want to keep your PC secure, you should get rid of this search engine without wasting your time. Why do you need a search provider that claims in its Terms of Use:

“ does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the use of the materials on its Internet web site or otherwise relating to such materials or on any sites linked to this site.”

The picture of SafeSearch redirect virus
SafeSearch redirect virus is designed to alter browser’s settings and set its domain as default search engine.

The picture of SafeSearch redirect virus
SafeSearch redirect virus is designed to alter browser’s settings and set its domain as default search engine.

SafeSearch does not perform its primary function properly. It might alter search results in order to include sponsored links at the top of the results page. Therefore, it might take a while to find useful and reliable information.

What is more, SafeSearch removal can help to protect your computer from cyber threats. Some of the content provided by this search provider lead to potentially dangerous sites. Thus, you might get infected with Trojan, malware or suffer from other cyber crime.[5]

You can remove from your computer with the help of anti-malware software. As an alternative, we suggest you scroll down and check the manual removal guide which was designed by researchers. However, if you are not an experienced PC user, you should select the first option. For best results, we also recommend resetting all the installed browsers and repairing system files with Reimage Reimage Cleaner .

Beware of Safe.Search.Tools – the new variation 

On July 2017, researchers noticed a new distribution method of the SafeSearch. This bogus search engine becomes a default after the installation of SafeSearch Incognito browser extension. It is available on Chrome web store and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X.

According to the developers, this tool protects users’ privacy:

Browse and search privately, without sharing personally identifiable information.

Nevertheless, developers talk about major search providers that collect some information about users; they do the same. According to their Privacy Policy, this search program might use cookies[6] to collect non-personally identifiable information, such as:

  • IP address,
  • browser type,
  • internet service provider (ISP),
  • cookie information,
  • and the webpage that a user visits.

Therefore, you should not be tricked by the beautifully written description of the browser extension. If it managed to sneak inside your computer with a software bundle and hijacked your browser, you should get rid of it immediately. Undoubtedly, the best way to remove Safe.Search.Tools is to use reputable security software.

More versions of the infamous Safe Search hijacker virus. claims to be a provider of “Advanced & Clean Search,” however, its functionality proves that this statement is wrong. Cyber security experts tend to rate this search site and the program that promotes it as a browser hijacker and a potentially unwanted program. The site is written in Hebrew language and provides links to external sites of unknown reputation. virus virus

If you do not speak the said language and you did not set the said search site as your homepage, but the search site emerged in your browser anyway, remove hijacker instantly. You can use the instructions we provided on rely on security programs we recommend using. or (alternatively known as Google is Tracking Your Searches). This particular version is promoted as a browser plug-in supposedly enabling you to browse safely. It is not recommended to use this add-on as it is promoted in a random web page –

Furthermore, there is no explicit information about the extension. Though it claims that you agree with the privacy policy and terms of use, it does not let you review the documents. In fact, the very download button is inactive.

It is recommended to cease this Safesearchgo redirect. If, by any chance, you are interested in it, note that this group of hijackers is closely associated with the  AdNetworkPerformance adware. SafeSearch products are promoted in random and insecure pop-up ads. It is another argument why it is not advised to use any of their tools. Besides installing useless plug-ins, you may accidentally get redirected to an infected website. browser hijacker
Another version of the virus prompts users to download useless browser extension, allegedly helping to stay secure online. browser hijacker
Another version of the virus prompts users to download useless browser extension, allegedly helping to stay secure online.

Software installers – a perfect way to promote PUPs

This PUP spreads using questionable and doubtful methods. One of such methods is known as “bundling.” Beware that you can end up with unwanted system changes and similar problems after installing freeware and shareware without monitoring its installation process.

To stay safe and prevent infiltration of such problems as the redirect to sponsored websites; you should start checking what programs you use. Please, avoid questionable, illegal and suspicious programs.

If you decide to install a free program from the Internet and think that it is safe, select Custom or Advanced installation method. After that, follow every installation step of the freeware and opt out of such potentially unwanted programs like this one. You need to uncheck all checkboxes that offer you to change your start page and default search engine because this may easily allow installation of SafeSearch.

A new variant of the hijacker, known as Safe.Search.Tools virus, has been noticed spreading via Chrome web store as well. We highly recommend staying away from SafeSearch Incognito Chrome extension. Keep in mind that other extensions might distribute this cyber threat too. Thus, always do your research before installing them.

Eliminate SafeSearch from your browsers

To avoid dangerous programs or even viruses on your computer, you should act now and remove SafeSearch. For that, you can use updated anti-spyware software or a guide given below. The hijacker mostly attacks French computer users; thus, if you are one of them you can visit our colleague’s site for more information.[7]

If you prefer to get rid of the Safe Search virus manually, you have to uninstall unknown programs and browser extensions. Make sure that you delete all hijacker-related entries. Leaving some entries on the system may lead to the re-hijacked browser.

SafeSearch PUP
Chrome warns users that site is not secure to use.

SafeSearch PUP
Chrome warns users that site is not secure to use.

If you want to avoid failure and speed up elimination process, you should opt for automatic SafeSearch removal. As we have mentioned, you can do it with the help of updated security software. Just run a system scan and wait until the program finishes the task.

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner . 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.

Reimage Reimage Cleaner has a free limited scanner. Reimage Reimage Cleaner 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.

Remove SafeSearch from Windows systems

To remove SafeSearch virus from the system and avoid its appearance on it in the future, you must remove every program which is related to it. You need to try to find SafeSearch, SafeSearch, Trovi, Music Search App, Genieo, and SafeSearch Incognito.

  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’).” title=”Click ‘Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features’ (if you are ‘Windows XP’ user, click on ‘Add/Remove Programs’).”></li>
<li>If you are <span class=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'.
  2. Uninstall SafeSearch and related programs
    Here, look for SafeSearch or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  3. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
  4. Remove SafeSearch from Windows shortcuts
    Right click on the shortcut of Mozilla Firefox and select Properties. Right click on browsers' icon and select 'Properties'
  5. 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.

Delete SafeSearch from Mac OS X system

If this program hijacked your device, please follow the steps to get rid of it.

  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 SafeSearch 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'

Get rid of SafeSearch from Internet Explorer (IE)

The hijacker may have altered settings of Internet Explorer. Follow the steps to get rid of all the changes caused by the hijacker.

  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 SafeSearch 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 SafeSearch removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again

Erase SafeSearch from Microsoft Edge

After the hijack, you have to follow the instructions and fix Microsoft Edge.

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, SafeSearch should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

Eliminate SafeSearch from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

In order to uninstall SafeSearch virus from Firefox, you need to remove questionable extensions 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 SafeSearch 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 SafeSearch removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Uninstall SafeSearch from Google Chrome

To fix Google Chrome and SafeSearch infiltration, you should remove all add-ons that are related to this hijacker. 2-spyware security researchers found these apps to be related to this hijacker: SafeSearch, SafeSearch,, Trovi, Music Search App, Genieo and SafeSearch Incognito. Once you find an add-on which belongs to the same developer, make sure you delete it. 

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

Remove SafeSearch from Safari

These guidelines will help you to get rid of all hijacker-related components and set your preferred startup page/search engine on 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 SafeSearch 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 SafeSearch, 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 SafeSearch removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button