How To Remove The Search By Zooms Redirect From Your Browser

Search By Zooms

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

Remove Search By Zooms Redirect and Restore PC
Manual Removal Guide
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Distribution of Search By Zooms Redirect

Search By Zooms 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 Search By Zooms 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.

The Search by Zooms redirect can also be installed via a browser extension hosted on the Chrome Web Store. It is called “Search by Zooms” and features a description that appears to draw the users into installing it. The text reads the following:

Install the Zooms better search extention and enjoy a better experience when you are searching on the web.
Zooms works in places you already like to search, so there’s no extra effort needed.
Zoom will change your browser search settings in order to provide you with a secure, safe and individual browsing experience

Search By Zooms Redirect

The advertising also lists customer feedback which is presumably auto-generated and posted via fake accounts or hacked computers.

Impact of Search By Zooms Redirect

The victims of the Search by Zooms redirect is to hijack their web browsers and point them to hacker-operated sites. One of the interesting aspects related to it in comparison with other similar threats is that it appears to have dedicated pages to Google Chrome users. Versions might exist or be planned for other major web browsers including: Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer.

The first signs of an active infection are the changed settings related to the default home page, search engine and new tabs page. The victims will find they will point to hacker-operated ones. Depending on the acquired version and the current configuration the addresses may change over time.

One of the pages related to the extension shows that a whole network of similar plugins exist: Zooms Start, Search by Zooms and Music. It is very possible that they can be included in a single delivery mechanism through an infected software installer instance. When the relevant extensions have been added the home page, default search engine and new tabs page can be changed to a hacker-operated site. An interesting facts about this particular infection is that it automatically generates the home page from the extension itself rather than using a hardcoded site. This is consistent with most advanced threats of this type.

The users are shown a home page which is organized in several sections as shown:

  • Top Bar ‒ Displays the search engine box along with several options, among them the languages options and links to the “Most Visited”, “Recommended Apps”, “Online Utilities” and “Recommended”. They link to either other extensions, sites or sponsored applications.
  • Ads Section ‒ They showcase sponsored applications and links. The hacker operators generate income based on the clicks and installs. As such it can be dynamically changed according to the current partners or the users interest and/or behavior.
  • Popular Services ‒ At the bottom of the page there is a list of some of the most widely used sites and services. The current set includes links to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Wikipedia and Youtube.

During interaction with the sites the victims are shown multiple intrusive pop-up ads to own services or other sites. Such actions can also lead to other infections. Our investigation into the threat has lead us to the analysis of the privacy policy and terms of use. These two documents give detailed information on the mechanisms and ways that the victim’s data is being used by the company. Here are some of the most worrying statements:

  • Tracking Cookies Institution ‒ Once the uses install the Search By Zooms redirect different cookies will be installed on the victim’s machine. They are used to track the users behavior across the site and report the metrics back to the hackers in real time.
  • Information Harvesting ‒ In addition to the behavior metrics the Search by Zooms redirect can also extract other types of sensitive information from the browsers and computers. This includes real name, phone number, usernames, passwords, account credentials, bookmarks, form data and etc.
  • Additional Malware Infections ‒ The redirect is useful for delivering multiple malware.

The privacy policy also gives detail on another hacker mechanism which utilizes social engineering tricks. During the installation of Zooms extensions (possibily including the Search by Zooms) the victims can be asked to provide their social network login details. Examples include Facebook and Google services. If this is done then important information from there can be extracted and sent to the hackers as well. The collected information can be cross compared with data extracted from the same victims in other hacker-operated sites. In many cases they operate large networks and push the extracted data into shared databases. Pop-ups and installation messages, as well as terms of use notifications can empower the service into selling the customer’s private data and metrics to third party services, including marketing agencies. In addition the document reveals that the site operators can perform various types of analysis and research on the victims’s data.

Whenever a victim opens a relevant service or types a certain keyword the tracking cookies are automatically activated. Even though specific strings are not added in the search bar the data collection is still active. This is evident from the fact that the “Recently Closed” dropdown menu is filled automatically with each closed site.

A non-ordinary characteristic of the home page is that it displays services and apps from two primary services ‒ The Chrome Web Store and Google Play. This shows that the criminals seem to target two of the most popular platforms: Google Chrome and the Android mobile operating system. As such the Search By Zooms redirect can be a very useful tool when it comes to delivering multiple threats in a predefined sequence.

As the homepage also lists several shopping sites it is possible to embed the links with affiliate links. They can also be automatically inserted by the browser extension as well when users browse non-listed entries. In essence when the victims buy an item from a compatible online store a percentage of the profit is given to the hacker operators when the links are followed.

The Change Language option shows that the Search By Zooms redirect has been engineered into several languages including the following:

  • English
  • Italian
  • German
  • Portugese
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • French
  • Spanish

The inclusion of so many languages gives the security researchers the idea that the target site can be advertised in many languages at once. This means that browser hijacker extensions can be created in many languages, found in sponsored ads and linked in email messages either generated automatically via a template or utilizing other approaches.

Search By Zooms 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 Search By Zooms Redirect and Restore PC

WARNING! Manual removal of the Search By Zooms 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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SpyHunter anti-malware tool will diagnose all current threats on the computer. By purchasing the full version, you will be able to remove all malware threats instantly. Additional information about SpyHunter / Help to uninstall SpyHunter

Search By Zooms 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 Search By Zooms 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.

run-window-windows

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

appwiz-cpl-command-run-windows

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“.

uninstall-malicious-software-control-panel-programs-features-windows

Remove Search By Zooms 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“.
    add-ons-mozilla-removal-browser-hijacker-guide

    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“.
    remove-suspicious-extensions-mozilla-removal-browser-hijacker-guide

    3. Click again on the Open menu icon, then click “Options“.
    options-mozilla-firefox-removal-browser-hijacker-guide

    4. In the Options window, under “General” tab, click “Restore to Default“.
    restore-to-default-settings-mozilla-firefox-removal-guide-browser-hijacker

    5. Select “Search” in the left menu, mark the unknown search engine and press “Remove”.
    search-remove-unknown-search-engine-mozilla-firefox-removal-guide-browser-hijacker

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

    settings-google-chrome-browser-hijacker-removal-guide

    2. Click “Extensions” in the left menu. Then click on the trash bin icon to remove the suspicious extension.
    delete-suspicious-extension-google-chrome-browser-hijacker-removal-guide

    3. Again in the left menu, under Chrome, Click on “Settings“. Go under “On Startup” and set a new page.
    set-new-page-google-chrome-browser-hijacker-removal-guide

    4. Afterward, scroll down to “Search“, click on “Manage search engines“.
    manage-search-engines-google-chrome-browser-hijacker-removal-guide

    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“.
manage-add-ons-internet-explorer-removal-browser-hijacker-bestsecuritysearch

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“.
remove-suspicious-toolbars--internet-explorer-removal-browser-hijacker

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”.
search-providers-set-engine-delete-suspicious-internet-explorer-removal-browser-hijacker

4. Open the Tools menu, select “Internet Options”.
internet-options-internet-explorer-removal-browser-hijacker

5. In the “General” tab, in “Home page”, enter your preferred page. Click “Apply” and “OK”.
enter-preferred-homepage-internet-explorer-removal-browser-hijacker

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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