gamesFriendly Search Redirect Removal Guide (Full Instructions)

An infection with the dangerous gamesFriendly Search Redirect leads to serious security issues. Victims can restore and protect their computers by following our complete removal guide.

Remove gamesFriendly Search Redirect and Restore PC
Manual Removal Guide
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Distribution of gamesFriendly Search Redirect

gamesFriendly Search is a new malware which has been reported in various attacks worldwide. At the moment the security experts have not been able to identify a single tactic that is being used to infect the targets. We presume that the hackers are using several of the most important methods to carry out the malicious campaigns.

A common way of setting browser hijacker attacks is the use of email spam messages. They may directly distribute malicious file attachments containing scripts that lead to an infection. Other cases can utilize complex social engineering tricks and hyperlinks that are specifically made to confuse the intended targets into infecting themselves. Two more scenarios that are used in combination with email messages rely on infected files used as payloads ‒ documents and software installers.

  • Infected Software Installers ‒ The criminals craft malicious packages made out of legitimate software installers. They are taken from the official vendor download sites, modified and then posted on online sites or attached (either as file attachments) or linked in the email messages.
  • Infected Documents ‒ They represent dangerous files that usually come in the form of some of the most popular document types: rich text documents, spreadsheets and databases. When the users open them up a notification prompt will ask them to enable the built-in scripts (macros). If this is done then the malware is installed on the victim computer.

The malware browser plugins can be uploaded to hacker-controlled sites and P2P networks like BitTorrent as well. The hacker operators frequently utilize template design, text and images to create portals that look like legitimate download sources. They may also use domain names that are very similar to legitimate sites and advertise them via pop-ups or ad networks.

The browser hijacker code associated with the gamesFriendly Search Redirect can be found in numerous malware toolbars. They are usually made for the most popular web browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Microsoft Edge. They can be distributed on such download sites or even on the browsers repositories (such as the Chrome Web Store for Google Chrome) using fake developer accounts.

Impact of gamesFriendly Search

The gamesFriendly Search redirect is a browser hijacker that is being distributed in an active attack campaign. Most of the samples have been collected through the software repositories of the popular web browsers. At the moment security experts have uncovered that Google Chrome is one of the major targets. The criminal operators have been able to create counterfeit and malicious copies of it using fake credentials and reviews. Other web browsers that can be affected include the following: Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Mozilla Firefox.

Once it is installed it modifies important parameters on the victim machine including the following: default home page, new tabs page and search engine. This is done in order to make the victims visit a hacker-controlled page which can be altered depending on the configuration and version of the gamesFriendly Search redirect.

One of the motivations behind this is the institution of tracking cookies in the infected web browsers. Together with other technology such as web beacons the operators of the site can continously monitor the users behavior. As the malware infect through the web browsers the hackers can gain access to sensitive information including the following:

  • Cookies
  • History
  • Bookmarks
  • Preferences
  • Form Data
  • Passwords
  • Account Credentials

Depending on the site’s design the hackers can utilize different strategies such as creating counterfeit copies that appear to look like legitimate services. In many cases hijackers like this one may advertise features and functionality that may appear as useful, however during their apparent execution malware activities. In general browser hijackers like this one have the ability to institute additional threats to the infected hosts including the following; viruses, Trojans, ransomware, miners and etc. This is the reason why security experts advise all users to remove the infections as soon as possible.

The privacy policy and terms of use documents reveal additional information. During the installation process the victims may be asked to log in online services like Google and Facebook. If this is done then the victim accounts will be linked to malware instances.

A detailed profile of the users is then created as the tracking cookies with other technologies and beacons start to harvest sensitive information. It can be divided into two major groups:

  • Anonymous Metrics — This kind of data is related mainly to the hardware components of the hosts. The data may be used for statistical purposes.
  • Personally-Identifiable Information — They can directly expose the users identity by providing data such as the following: real name, address, phone numbers and etc.

The data is stored and processed in order to provide targeted advertisments, as a result of potential user interaction income is generated for the operators.

gamesFriendly Search Redirect is a very dangerous threat that must be eliminated completely to prevent any privacy and security risks for the victim users. This is why we we recommend that all users remove the active infections by following our in-depth removal guide.

Remove gamesFriendly Search Redirect and Restore PC

WARNING! Manual removal of the gamesFriendly Search Redirect requires being familiar with system files and registries. Removing important data accidentally can lead to permanent system damage. If you don’t feel comfortable with manual instructions, download a powerful anti-malware tool that will scan your system for malware and clean it safely for you.

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gamesFriendly Search Redirect – Manual Removal Steps

Start the PC in Safe Mode with Network

This will isolate all files and objects created by the ransomware so they will be removed efficiently. The steps bellow are applicable to all Windows versions.

1. Hit the WIN Key + R

2. A Run window will appear. In it, write msconfig and then press Enter

3. A Configuration box shall appear. In it Choose the tab named Boot

4. Mark Safe Boot option and then go to Network under it to tick it too

5. Apply -> OK

Remove gamesFriendly Search from Windows

Here’s a way to remove the program. This method will work regardless if you’re on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP. Simply selecting the program and pressing delete won’t work, as it’ll leave a lot of small files. That’s bad because these leftovers can linger on and cause all sorts of problems. The best way to delete a program is to uninstall it. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Hold the “Windows” button (It’s between CTRL and Alt on most keyboards) and press “R”. You’ll see a pop-up window.

2. In the textbox, type “appwiz.cpl”, then press“ Enter ”.

3. The “Programs and features” menu should now appear. It’s a list of all the programs installed on the PC. Here you can find the program, select it, and press “Uninstall“.

Remove gamesFriendly Search Virus From Your Browser

Before resetting your browser’s settings, you should know that this action will wipe out all your recorded usernames, passwords, and other types of data. Make sure to save them in some way.

Removal guide for Mozilla Firefox Removal guide for Google Chrome Removal guide for Internet Explorer

    1. Start Mozilla Firefox. In the upper right corner, click on the Open menu icon and select “Add-ons“.

    2. Inside the Add-ons Manager select “Extensions“. Search the list of extensions for suspicious entries. If you find any, select them and click “Remove“.

    3. Click again on the Open menu icon, then click “Options“.

    4. In the Options window, under “General” tab, click “Restore to Default“.

    5. Select “Search” in the left menu, mark the unknown search engine and press “Remove”.

    1. Start Google Chrome. On the upper-right corner, there a “Customize and Control” menu icon. Click on it, then click on “Settings“.

    2. Click “Extensions” in the left menu. Then click on the trash bin icon to remove the suspicious extension.

    3. Again in the left menu, under Chrome, Click on “Settings“. Go under “On Startup” and set a new page.

    4. Afterward, scroll down to “Search“, click on “Manage search engines“.

    5. In the default search settings list, find the unknown search engine and click on “X“. Then select your search engine of choice and click “Make default“. When you are ready click “Done” button in the right bottom corner.

1. Start Internet Explorer. Go to the “Tools” menu and click on “Manage add-ons“.

2. In the “Manage add-ons” window, bellow “Add-on Types“, select “Toolbars and Extensions“. If you see a suspicious toolbar, select it and click “Remove“.

3. Then again in the “Manage Add-ons” window, in “Add-on Types“, Select “Search Providers“. Chose a search engine and click “Set as default“. Select the unknown search engine and click “Remove and Close”.

4. Open the Tools menu, select “Internet Options”.

5. In the “General” tab, in “Home page”, enter your preferred page. Click “Apply” and “OK”.

Repair Windows Registry

1. Again type simultaneously the WIN Key + R key combination

2. In the box, write regedit and hit Enter

3. Type the CTRL+ F and then write the malicious name in the search type field to locate the malicious executable

4. In case you have discovered registry keys and values related to the name, you should delete them, but be careful not to delete legitimate keys

Click for more information about Windows Registry and further repair help

Preventive Security Measures

  • Enable and properly configure your Firewall.
  • Install and maintain reliable anti-malware software.
  • Secure your web browser.
  • Check regularly for available software updates and apply them.
  • Disable macros in Office documents.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re certain they’re safe.
  • Backup regularly your data.
  • Author : Martin Beltov

    Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.


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