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Danger level 7
Type: Adware
Common infection symptoms:
  • Annoying Pop-up's
  • Shows commercial adverts
  • Connects to the internet without permission


Even though HighlightSearches is promoted at, this unreliable and dangerous ad-supported program (adware) is primarily distributed by malicious installers. The biggest issue with this method of distribution is that malicious installers distribute malicious programs. Even though the suspicious HighlightSearches could be offered along with relatively harmless PUPs or tracking cookies, it could also be offered together with Trojans, ransomware, fake malware removal software, browser hijackers, and other nasty programs. There is a great possibility that you will find other infections to delete if you are trying to remove HighlightSearches. Continue reading to learn how.

If you are familiar with the information provided on the official website, you might be convinced that you will be able to uninstall HighlightSearches. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our researchers have recently discovered that this infection uses a process, abengine.exe, to connect to remote servers and initiate the presentation of online ads. As soon as this process is activated, you will be exposed to ads whenever you surf the web. It was found that HighlightSearches is mainly represented via sponsored ads that show up instead of Google search results. Unfortunately, this often tricks computer users into interacting with ads that they actually should remove.

More vigilant computer users should be able to spot the tag "Sponsored Ads." Google might show ads, but they will not be identified as “Sponsored Ads.” If you are not cautious about what kind of content you interact with, soon enough you might click a link routing to malicious websites. As you must know already, cyber criminals tend to exploit misleading ads for the activation of drive-by download attacks and vicious scams. As you know already, you might already need to delete HighlightSearches, and clicking on random ads presented by this adware could lead to the infiltration of even more infections. If you are not interested in having to remove malware or exposing your virtual identity, we do not advise keeping HighlightSearches on your Windows operating system.

The reasons for removing HighlightSearches are obvious, but the methods of removal can be challenging. As mentioned previously, you cannot just uninstall this adware as any unwanted program. Instead, you need to delete files and reset Network Adapter’s software. Needless to say, if you apply authentic security software to delete HighlightSearches and all other threats existing, you will not need to worry about this malware. This is the option our researchers recommend, especially if you doubt your own ability to remove malware manually. Keep in mind that that HighlightSearches might be one of the many infections active on your PC, and, if you cannot get passed this hurdle, you need to think if you will be able to delete all threats and protect your operating system.

The instructions below explain how to reset winsock. Winsock is responsible for handling requests made by Internet apps in Windows OS. First, remove the HighlightSearches folder under %PROGRAMFILES(x86)%. If you perform this task successfully, you should move on to resetting winsock. If you have any questions regarding any of the removal tasks, you can contact us using the comment form below.

Reset Winsock

Windows XP/Windows 7

  1. Click Start on the Taskbar and click RUN.
  2. Enter cmd to launch the Command Prompt.
  3. Type netsh winsock reset and tap Enter (on the keyboard).
  4. Restart your computer.

Windows Vista

  1. Click the Windows logo on the Taskbar and select Control Panel.
  2. Move to Network and Internet and click Internet and Sharing Center.
  3. Click Manage network connections.
  4. Select Local Area Connection and click Diagnose this connection.
  5. Click Reset the Network adaptor and restart your computer.

Windows 8/Windows 8.1

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom-right corner in Metro UI to access the Charm bar.
  2. Click Search and type cmd.
  3. Launch Command Prompt and type netsh winsock reset. Tap Enter.
  4. Restart your computer.
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