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Danger level 6
Type: Browser Hijackers
Common infection symptoms:
  • Changes default search engine


SearchAssistant.co is a hijacker that will take over your New Tab page and your default search provider. According to our researchers, although this hijacker is only compatible with Google Chrome at the moment, it could take over Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers as well; so be careful. If you find different browsers infected by this hijacker, please post a comment below, so that we could update the removal guide. Of course, we recommend removing SearchAssistant.co, and not just because it can corrupt your browsers. In fact, most users will not even consider this threat a browser hijacker because they will accept its installation. We classify it as a hijacker nonetheless, and you can learn more about it by reading this report. If questions come up while reading, use the comment section to start a discussion.

The suspicious SearchAssistant.co might be identified as a harmless search provider by those who download the Search Assistant extension. Chrome users can acquire it from the Chrome web store at chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/search-assistant/fafnilhpmeffadmbdlepblmgfakbgfdp. This add-on supposedly has over 6 thousand users, but ratings and reviews do not exist, which allows us to assume that it is not considered beneficial. When installing this extension from the Chrome web store, you are informed that it can read the information on the sites you visit (as well, as modify it), manage your apps and extensions, and change search settings to searchme.com. Although this search tool is not the one you will find on your New Tab, you are informed about the changes made to your default search provider. Despite this, because you have no other option but to install this search tool, we classify it as a hijacker.

When you access SearchAssistant.co via the New Tab, you can see links representing EULA, Privacy Policy, and FAQ at the bottom. If you move to the EULA (End User License Agreement) statement, you will find that this software is controlled by Searchme, but the Privacy Policy represents Search Assistant as the party responsible. Needless to say, any discrepancy in the information provided should be considered as a potential red flag. From what we see, it is most likely that the real company behind this software is hidden, and that is truly disconcerting because if you cannot trust the company, how can you trust the legal information that supports SearchAssistant.co? According to this information, personally-identifiable information is not collected with the help of cookies – which is often the case with browser hijackers and adware – and it is in no way associated with malware. You be the judge of whether or not this information can be trusted.

Although SearchAssistant.co has taken on an interface of a search engine, it does not actually work like one. Instead, it redirects to one of the popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or Bing) after you enter your search keyword into the provided box. This is where most users stubble. Even if they realize that unsolicited redirecting is suspicious and unwanted, they trust the search engines they are routed to, which makes them think that SearchAssistant.co is harmless. Although these search engines are legitimate and reliable, the results shown to them are curated by the hijacker itself, and they are likely to include sponsored links. Whether or not interacting with these links is dangerous is hard to say, but because the risk of being exposed to malicious links exists, we advise deleting SearchAssistant.co from your browsers. After all, it does not offer a single beneficial service, and there is no reason to keep it running.

According to our analysis, SearchAssistant.co could take over browsers via software bundles or misleading pop-up offers. Although some users will acquire this hijacker along with the extension using a legitimate installer, some will find it bundled with malware or unwanted programs. Due to this, we encourage users to acquire automated malware detection and removal software. Of course, before you do that, you can scan your PC using a free malware scanner to see if other threats even exist. If you find that you only need to remove SearchAssistant.co extension, Search Assistant, you can use the guide below. Regardless, employing reliable security software is crucial, and we recommend doing that as soon as possible.

SearchAssistant.co Removal

  1. Launch your Chrome browser and tap Alt+F keys.
  2. Select More tools for more options and select Extensions.
  3. In the chrome://extensions/ menu find the unwanted extension and click the recycle bin next to it.
  4. Choose Remove and restart your browser.
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