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Remove Social2Search ads virus from Mozilla Firefox, Chrome and IE

3 min read
Find out why ads by Social2Search appear on websites, what additional risk emanates from the adware displaying them, and how to get rid of the infection.

Social2Search is an online service that claims to add a social networking component to users’ web search routine. It supposedly does this by continuously monitoring relevant information shared by one’s friends on resources like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. As a result, the application promises to show the appropriate entries when a customer is looking for something on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, eBay, Yelp, Trip Advisor and the like. Based on the official product description available on its homepage social2search.com or technologiesirwilfridlaurier.com, this may sound like a good deal. The actual state of things, however, considerably deviates from what’s declared. Once the apropos extension is added to a browser, the user will start stumbling into much more content than just their friends’ postings when surfing the web.

Social2Search ads aren’t only about friends’ shares on social networks
Social2Search ads aren’t only about friends’ shares on social networks

It turns out that the add-on integrates sponsored information into the sites that the victim visits. Incidentally, not only does this effect apply to ecommerce services or search providers only, but it also twists the look and feel of regular blogs, news sites, whatnot. The intrusive extension embeds banners in the upper part of an arbitrary web page. When it comes to search engines, the top section of the results is going to be crammed up with ads that have nothing to do with the information shared by one’s online pals and acquaintances. Also, some strings of text on sites may become clickable, with injected hyperlinks redirecting the user to landing pages for certain software, goods or services. Another adverse things about Social2Search is that the affected web browser will slow down appreciably and may even freeze or crash once in a while. Meanwhile, the victim’s privacy is exposed to possible violation as the adware keeps track of their browsing history. Sensitive online details may therefore end up in crooks’ hands.

Permissions obtained by Social2Search add-on
Permissions obtained by Social2Search add-on

The privacy concerns associated with this app are partly explicated in the permissions it needs when integrating with a web browser. According to the add-on’s corresponding details, it can read and change all data on visited sites and communicate with native applications. In other words, Social2Search knows where exactly a victim goes online, and possibly what personally-identifiable information (PII) is tied up to different accounts. Yet another issue is that the program under consideration may feature stealth propagation. It is often installed as part of software packages, where the presence of the bundle is hardly ever a clear thing. Different freeware and shareware portals monetize their operation by promoting third-party utilities along with regular, harmless applications. The catch is that the drive-by is included in the default configuration of these installation clients. Therefore, it’s usually possible to avoid security problems by simply selecting the custom setup option and then opting out of the bad stuff.

To stop Social2Search ads from showing up on websites, those infected need to follow a specially crafted adware removal procedure. It’s also necessary to define normal values for certain browser settings that the pest affected.

Automated removal of Social2Search virus

Owing to an up-to-date database of malware signatures and intelligent behavioral detection, the recommended software can quickly locate the infection, eradicate it and remediate all harmful changes. So go ahead and do the following:

1. Download and install the antimalware tool. Open the solution and have it check your PC for PUPs and other types of malicious software by clicking the Start Computer Scan button

Download Social2Search remover

2. Rest assured the scan report will list all items that may harm your operating system. Select the detected entries and click Fix Threats to get the troubleshooting completed.

Use Control Panel to get rid of Social2Search adware

• Open up the Control Panel from your Start menu in Windows and select Uninstall a program
Access program uninstall screen on Windows
• To facilitate the process of locating the threat, sort the programs list by date to get the latest ones displayed at the very top. Find Social2Search or some other unfamiliar entry under the Name column, click Uninstall and follow further directions to get the removal done.
Uninstall unwanted program

Restore web browser settings to their original defaults

In the circumstances of a complex browser hijack like this, executing a reset makes the most sense despite a few obvious downsides. Customizations such as saved passwords, bookmarked pages etc. will be gone, but so will all the changes made by the potentially unwanted program. The instructions below address the workflow for the web browsers most targeted by Social2Search.

Reset Google Chrome

• Open Chrome, expand the Customize and control Google Chrome menu and choose Settings
Go to Settings in Chrome
• Scroll down the settings screen and click Advanced down at the bottom
Advanced settings in Chrome
• Move on to the Reset and clean up sub-section and select the option that says Restore settings to their original defaults
Restore Chrome settings to their original default
• Finally, confirm the restoration by clicking Reset settings on the warning message
Reset Chrome settings
• Restart Chrome.

Reset Mozilla Firefox

• Open Firefox, type about:support in the URL area and press Enter. Alternatively, you can click on the Open menu icon in the top right-hand part of the browser window, then select the Help option and proceed to Troubleshooting Information
Access Troubleshooting Information page in Firefox
• On the Troubleshooting Information screen, spot the Refresh Firefox button and click on it
Refresh Firefox button
• Follow subsequent directions to reset Firefox to its original settings
Complete refreshing Firefox
• Restart the browser.

Reset Internet Explorer

• Select Internet options under IE’s Tools (Alt+X)
Open up Internet options in Internet Explorer
• Proceed by clicking on Advanced tab, then select Reset
Locate and click the Reset button in IE
• To confirm the intended changes, click Reset on the Reset Internet Explorer Settings screen after ascertaining that the Delete personal settings checkbox is enabled
IE reset confirmation
• Reboot the machine to fully implement the fix.

Reset Safari

• Go to the Safari menu and select Preferences
Go to Safari Preferences
• When on the Preferences screen, select the Privacy tab and hit the Remove All Website Data button if you are up to erasing all website data stored on your Mac. Otherwise, you can use a site-specific removal option described below
Remove All Website Data button
• A dialog will appear, asking you to validate your choice. Click the Remove Now button if you are sure. Be advised this will log you out of online services and undo personalized web browser settings such as saved passwords, etc.
Confirm website data removal
• Safari also allows deleting data for specific sites rather than all sites in general. To use this option, click the Details button under Privacy tab
Details button under Privacy tab
• Select the websites for which you would like to erase data and click the Remove button
Removing data for selected sites in Safari
• Click the Done button to confirm and exit. You can also select the Remove All option to remove all data stored by the listed websites.

Revise your security status

Post-factum assessment of the accuracy component in malware removal scenarios is a great habit that prevents the comeback of harmful code or replication of its unattended fractions. Make sure you are good to go by running an additional safety checkup.

Download Social2Search removal tool

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