What is the Hotspot Shield virus (malware)?
The Hotspot Shield virus is a term for potential malware categorized as a browser hijacker that cause many problems for computer and internet users. Hotspot Shield and the Hotspot Shield Toolbar, alongside third-party software and browser objects cause symptoms relating to unwanted browser redirects to http://search.anchorfree.com/, http://search.anchorfree.net/, http://anchorfree.us/, http://www.hotspotshield.com/, http://shieldedsearch.com/, http://search.ask.com/, http://search.conduit.com/, and other websites. Hotspot Shield and Hotspot Shield Toolbar are known to change additional internet browser settings without permission such as the home page.
Aside from redirects to the AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Search Engine, this particular potentially unwanted application is known to install to computer systems and attach to internet browsers without consent. Often alongside or bundled with third-party add-ons and extensions. The Hotspot Shield virus also causes unwanted pop-up ads to appear, as well as drop-down coupons and pop-under adverts that may appear while the user is offline.
Hotspot Shield malware is promoted as a free VPN service or security tool that can keep you protected against online threats and allow you to secure your WIFI, among other features. This can be seen as misleading because most internet users do not want to experience symptoms of malware that Hotspot Shield and Anchorfree.net (.com, .us) introduce.
When Hotspot Shield Toolbar, a browser helper object, add-on, and extension developed by AnchorFree is installed, the unwanted toolbar and related third-party applications “corrupt default search provider settings” ( – Microsoft) and cause unwanted browser redirects to a mixture of websites including http://search.anchorfree.com/, http://search.anchorfree.net/, http://anchorfree.us/, http://www.hotspotshield.com/, http://shieldedsearch.com/, http://search.ask.com/, and other websites.
Hotspot Shield is not an actual computer virus by definition and may protect users to a limit. Hotspot Shield virus and other terms such as Shielded Search virus and Hotspot Shield Class virus are only terms commonly used by third-parties to identify this potential malware that should be removed if present on a system without consent. While Hotspot Shield is not a virus, Hotspot Shield and third-parties may be extremely invasive and intruding. Hotspot Shield Toolbar and relating malware have been linked to the collected and distribution of user information, including browser and computing habits. The information collected may be used in relations to promotional email spam, junk mail, and phone calls telemarketers all the way to severe crimes including credit theft, extortion, and identity theft.
How does Hotspot Shield Toolbar infect a computer?
Hotspot Shield and the Hotspot Shield Toolbar can be contracted via downloadable content such as freeware, shareware, codecs, and even torrents. In fact, when installing such software as the utorrent p2p client, users are prompted with the opportunity to accept or decline an offer to install Hotspot Shield. To some this tactic may be seen as confusing and unethical as Hotspot Shield may disguise itself in the installers of third-party software and simply clicking a “next” button may introduce the unwanted program.
Furthermore, Hotspot Shield and Hotspot Shield Toolbar can be installed from unethical websites such as download.com and multiple AnchorFree and Hotspot Shield domains.
A large concern about accidentally, manually, or being tricked into installing HotspotShield is that the installment process does not allow you to cancel installing the unwanted software even though a Cancel button is clearly presented (represented in the video above).
How to remove Hotspot Shield malware
- Automatically remove Hotspot Shield software and Toolbar – Scan for and automatically remove Hotspot Shield and third-party malware
- Manually remove Hotspot Shield – Remove/Uninstall Hotspot Shield software and third-party malware
1. Automatic Hotspot Shield removal
Use the instructions below to automatically remove the Hotspot Shield hijacker and third-party malware, as well as automatically remove unwanted search engines from your home page, default search engine, browser shortcuts, and other hijacked settings.
1. Install the free or paid version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
2. Once Malwarebytes is installed, run the program. If you are using the free version of Malwarebytes you will be prompted to update the database, make sure to do so.
3. On the first tab labeled “Scanner” select the Perform full scan option and click the Scan button to perform a full system scan. Malwarebytes will automatically detect malware infecting the computer system.
4. Once the malware scan is complete, Malwarebytes may prompt a notice stating malicious objects were detected. Select the malicious objects and click the Remove Selected button to completely remove the malicious files from your computer (the image below shows a file that is NOT selected) or click the Delete button to remove quarantined files.
CCleaner can be used to automatically repair internet browser settings startup up settings, and uninstall Hotspot Shield and associated third-party software. It should be noted that Hotspot Shield at minimal installs to software titles, 1 Hotspot Shield and 2 Hotspot Shield Toolbar.
1. Install the free or paid version of CCleaner by Piriform.
2. Once installed, open the program and navigate to Cleaner > Windows/Applications and click the Analyze button. Afterwards, click the Run Cleaner button on the bottom right of the program interface.
3. Next, navigate to Tools > Startup and search through each tab starting from windows, internet explorer, etc., all the way to Content Menu, for additional suspicious entries and click Delete once anything is found (shown in the video below).
4. To automatically uninstall Hotspot Shield and other unwanted programs, navigate to the Uninstall tab and search for Hotspot Shield, Ask Toolbar, etc. in the list of installed programs. Uninstall the unwanted software as selected by clicking the Run Uninstaller button.
To video an additional video showing how to remove Hotspot Search registry entries using CCleaner please click here.
2. Manual Hotspot Shield removal
Use the instructions below to manually uninstall Hotspot Shield and third-party software using generic Microsoft Windows removal procedures.
How to uninstall Hotspot Shield malware
1. Access Windows Start Menu and navigate to the Control Panel.
2. Click Uninstall a program or Add and remove a program.
3. In the list of installed programs, search for Hotspot Shield Toolbar, Hotspot Shield, Ask Toolbar, and other potentially unwanted software. Once located, double click the unwanted programs or highlight them in the list and click the Uninstall button.
How to remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar add-ons and extensions
Use the instructions to remove Hotspot Shield Toolbar add-ons, extensions, and plug-ins such as Hotspot Shield Class. Please note, it may be necessary to remove multiple third-party titles.
1. Click on the Customize icon (wrench or 3 bar icon) next to the address bar and navigate to Tools > Extensions.
2. Search for the Hotspot Shield Toolbar extension and remove it by clicking the trashcan icon next to them.
1. Type Ctrl+Shift+A.
2. On the Extensions and Plugin search for the Hotspot Shield Toolbar add-on and remove it.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
1. Click Tools and select Manage add-ons.
2. On the Toolbars and Extensions tab search for the Hotspot Shield add-on (Hotspot Shield Class) and remove it if located.