Protected Search virus (Protected Toolbar)
The Protected Search virus (also found as Protected Toolbar, Protected Toolbar for IE; though not technically a computer virus) is potential malware categorized as a browser hijacker and spyware that downloads and installs to a Microsoft Windows computer and attaches to popular internet browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer as a browser add-on, browser helper object (BHO), and extension with or without user consent. The Protected Toolbar add-on and extension titled “Protected” is used to promote the Protected Search Engine (search.conduit.com, bing.com). The Protected virus changes internet browser settings including the home page (start page) and default browser search engine (managed, provided) causing unwanted browser redirections to Protected Search, bing.com, search.conduit.com, and other websites.
Once Protected Software Protected Toolbar, Protected Toolbar for IE) is installed the application will begin to change existing internet browser settings and collect sensitive user information including data manually submitted online such as your name, home address, telephone number, email address, browser activity and history, and more. Protected malware may also use techniques to collect purchase information or persuade victims to purchase non-beneficial software via search results and third-party adware applications that may have bundled with Protected Toolbar.
Protected Toolbar has permission to access all the data on your computer and the websites you visit.
If spyware alike Protected Toolbar is installed on your computer and attached to your internet browser you are at risk of cyber crimes involving credit theft, extortion, identity theft, and more. Though these crimes are rare given the initial scenario, this particular category of malware leaves users at a higher risk.
The Protected Search Engine displays sponsored search results from bing.com, conduit.com, and others, and is not considered a legitimate standalone search engine.
Protected Toolbar will appear at the top of an open browser window and may also bundle with third-party malware including adware and spyware.
How does Protected Toolbar get onto a computer?
Protected Toolbar (Protected for IE) and other Items used to promote the Protected Search redirect virus can be manually and voluntarily installed from a variety of questionable websites. Protected software often bundles with suspicious third-party freeware and shareware.
Some users are given the opportunity to accept or decline an offer to install Protected Toolbar and change their home page and search engine; However, the request to decline the offer is often ignored or represented in a confusing manner.
If Protected Toolbar malware is installed, there is likely additional third-party potential malware on your computer system. Protected Toolbar primarily bundles with third-party items without user consent or knowledge.
How to remove Protected Toolbar
- Automatically remove Protected Toolbar – Scan for and automatically remove Protected Toolbar and third-party malware
- Manually remove Protected Toolbar – Remove/Uninstall Protected software and third-party malware (if necessary)
1. Automatic Protected Toolbar removal
Use the instructions below to automatically remove Protected Toolbar and third-party malware, as well as automatically remove unwanted search engines from your installed internet browsers.
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 the Protected Toolbar hijacker and associated third-party software.
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 Disable and Delete once anything is found.
4. To automatically uninstall Protected Toolbar (Protected Toolbar for IE) and other unwanted programs, navigate to the Uninstall tab and search for Protected Toolbar, etc. in the list of installed programs. Uninstall the unwanted software as selected by clicking the Run Uninstaller button.
2. Manual Protected Toolbar removal
Use the instructions below to manually uninstall Protected Toolbar and third-party software using generic Microsoft Windows removal procedures.
How to uninstall Protected Toolbar
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 Protected 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 Protected Toolbar add-ons and extensions
Use the instructions to remove Protected Toolbar add-ons, extensions, plug-ins, and additional toolbars. Please note, it will be necessary to remove multiple third-party items.
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 Protected 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 Protected 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 Protected Toolbar add-on and remove it if located.
How to remove Protected Search Engine (conduit.com)
- In Mozilla Firefox, click the small search magnify glass near the search box (not url/search field) and click “Manage Search Engines…”. Remove the Protected search engine from the list of search providers by highlighting the selections and clicking remove.
- In Microsoft Internet Explorer navigate to Tools > Manage Add Ons > Search Providers and remove the Protected search engine from the list.
- In Google Chrome, click the customize icon (wrench or 3 bars) and navigate to Settings > Manage search engines… click the X next to the Protected search engine to remove it.
Please note, If http://www.search.conduit.com/ (etc.) is set as Google Chrome’s default search engine, add (or select) a new search engine (such as Google.com) and select the new search engine as the default search engine, then remove the unwanted search engine by clicking the X next to it.
How to remove Protected Search Homepage (conduit.com)
- In Mozilla Firefox navigate to Tools > Options or click Firefox in the top left corner and click Options > Options. Under the General tab remove Protected Search from the “Home Page:” field and replace it with your preferred home page URL.
- In Microsoft Internet Explorer navigate to Tools >Internet Options. Remove Protected Search from the Home Page field and replace it with your preferred URL.
- In Google Chrome click the customize icon (wrench or 3 bars) and navigate to Settings.Click “Set pages” under the On startup option. Remove Protected Search and replace it with your preferred URL.