What is HotStartSearch.com? How to Remove It?

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What is HotStartSearch.com? How to Remove It?

Postby Ocean » 2013-03-29 2:50


What is HotStartSearch.com? Is it a virus? Why my installed antivirus failed to figure out anything unusual after a full scan? I don’t remember having installed this domain, or changed my default homepage to it. Why is it here? How to stop it? Read on to get your helpful and straightforward answers here.

About HotStartSearch.com

HotStartSearch.com is used by cyber criminals, who develop and spread this hijacker to win unethical profits by giving ways to third party applications and pop-up advertisements. It may even bring malware to your computer through system vulnerabilities so as to monitor and control your system. As soon as HotStartSearch.com captures your browsers, it will change your homepage to http://hotstartsearch.com/ and make itself the default search provider of all installed browsers.

See the screenshot of HotStartSearch.com:

HotStartSearch.com-image.jpg


HotStartSearch.com assumes Bing’s style, but claims itself to be powered by Yahoo. It adopts such trademark to win over your trust. If you have never met a browser hijacker before and have no notion about this kind of threat, you are likely to take and use it as a legitimate browser. That’s what the cyber criminals what to see. Searcheh.com is designed with the ability to record and transfer your online activities so it’s very risky to have this domain overrule your browsers. We provide a straightforward removal guide below to help you fix this issue. Read on for more information.

Step 1: Uninstall HotStartSearch related Toolbar from Windows Control Panel.

    • Windows XP: Go to Start> Control Panel> Add Remove programs> Look for HotStartSearch toolbar or other related items> Click on Remove.
    • Windows 7: Go to Start> Control panel> Uninstall a program/Programs and Features> Look for HotStartSearch Toolbar or other related items> click on Uninstall.

    Note: Once HotStartSearch Toolbar is removed from the Control Panel of your computer, the extensions installed on Internet Explore and Mozilla Firefox will be cleared automatically, so you don’t need a manual removal later. However, your Google Chrome still needs a manual FIX.

Step 2: Repair your browser settings.

    Internet Explorer

    1. Remove HotStartSearch.com from the homepage:

    :idea: Tips: Press the Alt key to reveal menu bar of IE& FF

    Tools> Internet Options> General > Replace http://HotStartSearch.com/ with a desired domain like www.google.com> Click Apply to complete the operation

    Image

    2. Change default search provider, and remove HotStartSearch.com from the list.

    Tools> Manage Add-ons> Search Providers> Choose to set a preferred one as default search provider by clicking Set as default button> Remove HotStartSearch.com from the list.

    Image

    Google Chrome

    1. Remove HotStartSearch.com from the Startup pages of Chrome.

    Click on the Wrench or 3-Bars icon> Settings> In On startup section click Set pages> mouse-over to the HotStartSearch.com and click the X symbol to remove it> Add your preferred domain and set it as your homepage.

    Image

    2. Remove HotStartSearch.com from the homepage.

    Click on the Wrench or 3-Bars icon> Settings> In Appearance section click Change

    Remove http://HotStartSearch.com/ from Startup pages by clicking the X symbol, you can also choose to add a new page by entering its URL and hit OK to complete the modification.

    GC2.jpg


    3. Change default search provider, and remove HotStartSearch.com from the search engines list.

    Click on the Wrench or 3-Bars icon> Settings> In Search section click Manage search engines…> Choose to set another preferred one as the default search engine by clicking Make default> Remove HotStartSearch.com from the list.

    Image

    4. Remove HotStartSearch.com associated add-ons through managing Extensions.

    Click on the Wrench or 3-Bars icon> Tools > Extensions > Find and delete HotStartSearch.com related add-ons from the list.

    Note: The extension may under a different name, thus search for and delete programs that are suspicious or under similar file name.

    Mozilla Firefox

    1. Remove HotStartSearch.com from the homepage.

    :idea:Tips: Press the Alt key to reveal menu bar of IE& FF

    Tools> Options> General> Replace http://HotStartSearch.com with a preferred domain> Click OK to complete the change.

    Image

    2. Reset changed items of your Firefox.

    Type about:config into the address bar> Press Enter> Accept the Warning

    Image

    Search for HotStartSearch.com in the search bar >Right click on each item and select Reset> Hit OK to apply the change.

    ff-all.jpg


    3. Remove HotStartSearch.com from the search provider list.

    Click on the Google icon and select Manage Search Engines…. Select Startpage.com and hit Remove, then click OK to complete the change.

    Image

Step 3: Clear corrupt residues of HotStartSearch.com, including registry keys, cookies, caches, etc. with Cloud System Booster

    1. Download Cloud System Booster by clicking the Download button below, and save the file to your desktop.

    Image

    2. Install and launch Cloud System Booster> Click on the gear icon located on top right of the interface

    Image

    3. Go to Settings> Boost> Cleaner> Privacy Clean> Manually check the option: 'Internet Explorer Cookies','Mozilla Firefox Cookies','Google Chrome Cookies' (Other options such as registry clean, registry error fix and Opera caches are checked by default) > Hit Ok to return to main interface.

    Image

    4. Click on BOOST button, and follow its instruction to clear all junks found.

    Image

    Restart your computer to enjoy a clean system.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

If you have any question regarding this removal guide, please feel free to leave a comment below or start a new thread in our forums.
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Ocean
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Re: What is HotStartSearch.com? How to Remove It?

Postby latincrux@gmail.com » 2013-06-01 3:57

In both IE and Firefox, I began noticing a redirector on my Google searches that was sending me to pages under the name “hotstartsearch.” I’ve been hijacked! Or, at least both of my browsers were. I began doing research on “hotstartsearch” and found slight misinformation blended with a little knowledge. As of May 31, 2013, this malware is still relatively new and nothing, I really mean nothing, is available to rid it from your computer. The only way is manually at this time and being dissatisfied with the online information, I went on the hunt to rid it from my computer.
Their initial information is correct. You can search your entire system for “hotstartsearch” and you will find nothing. It is virtually invisible on your computer. I know, because I did three system searches, even with a Linux live CD, and I found nothing with that name or any combination of it. This “invisible” hijacker is very present and active. Later, in this article, I will tell you how to delete it.
I searched my registry entries by word-searches and nothing by that name. The blogs, forums, and sites that tell you that you should just look for “hotstartsearch” in your program installations under your Control Panel, but that is useless, since no such name appears. I then ran four virus and malware scanners, none of which found it or any other known malware, yet it has taken over my browsers.
What is “hotstartsearch”? It is a browser hijacker that redirects your search to malware sites. When you search in IE, Firefox, Chrome, or Opera, then you will get a pop up window, but if you aren’t on your toes, you may click the link before realizing it is not Google and is hotstartsearch. If you follow through and click it, then you will possibly get additional malware.
I am not sure where I got it, so I conducted a file by file search to look for it. In the meantime, I got a temporary victory over it in IE 9 by setting my Pop-up blocker level to the High level. It stopped temporarily stopped hotstartsearch from redirecting while I figured how to kill it. I could now use my IE without being hijacked.
I searched for any newly installed programs by date. There it was. Four days ago a program was installed that I did not install. It was called “Fast Free Converter.” I did a complete search of my system found it in two places. The main file was under Programs x86/FastFreeConverter/extension@FastFreeConverter.com, which now I was satisfied that I found the right bugger, even though the two files hidden do not say “hotstartsearch,” they instead were “bowserOverlay.js” and “browserOverlay.xul.” There it is—a Java script to take over your browser! I found the redirector under the name FastFreeConveter instead of hotstartsearch.
FastFreeConverter is Java-based Malware and it installs the hijacker “HotStartSearch” and other adware and malware. For example, when you have a mouse moveover on any blue highlighted word in an article, like a Wiki article, you will notice an unrelated 2” x 2” advert pop up. Other people report that it sneaks in through torrents, but more often through bundled shareware or freeware.
These are the steps that I took to destroy both FastFreeConverter and hotstartsearch.
1. First, FastFreeConverter will likely show up in your Program Uninstaller under your Control Panel. You can uninstall it that way. You can also look for it with the “Start up” tool in Crap Cleaner, if you have that program. You will see it as a startup under both IE and Firefox, which serves the same purpose as the browser “add on” functions.
2. FastFreeConverter has installed itself in a folder under Programs x86\FastFreeConverter. It has subfolders with Java files and other files that will be need to be deleted when you destroy it.
3. I found it in Firefox as an Extension, so if you uninstall it, you need to double check that to make sure it was automatically removed. Go to the Firefox tool button on the top left side and click the down arrow. Click “Add Ons.” Click “Extensions” and you should see FastFreeConverter. (That is the hidden code name for hotstartsearch). If you have had it a while or if you clicked the hijacked page, then you may have installed a search engine in Firefox for hotstartsearch. To check this, click the down arrow next to the icon in the small search engine bar that has the magnifying glass. A menu drops down with a list of search engines and the bottom is “Manage Search Engine.” Click that. See if hotstartsearch exists.
4. In my IE 9, FastFreeConverter was under the “Tools” icon, “Manage add-ons,” which opened the window for “Toolbars and Extensions.” You will notice that it is hidden. There is nothing for either FastFreeConverter or hotstartsearch. Look for the bar on the left side that says, “Currently Loaded Add ons.” Click the down arrow and change it to “All Add Ons.” Now you have a new list. Scroll down to the bottom, since they are categorized by corporation. In the listing for “Not Available” you will see one or two blank ones that are “Enabled” with no name. That is probably the one.
5. THIS IS HOW I KILLED IT.
a. First, disconnect your WiFi so that it will not automatically connect and reinstall while you are deleting it. Then go through your Control Panel to your Program Uninstaller to uninstall the FastFreeConverter. If you want to really, really kill it, then you may want to remove it with a uninstaller like Revo Uninstaller (freeware). I did, and even after its regular uninstallation, it still had 5 registry keys and 31 values that were left behind. And, just as I suspected, it tried to connect to the Internet when I uninstalled it, so be sure to follow my first line.
b. I immediately checked my Firefox and the FastFreeConverter add-on was delteted with the uninstalled program.
c. I checked my IE 9 and
d. If you are really paranoid, then once you see the date that it was installed, you can roll back your Windows system to a “restore point” prior to its installation.
e.
You should be done.
latincrux@gmail.com
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