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Google and Bing search results links redirects: Virus or money-maker?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 11, 2013 8:25 AM PDT

Google and Bing search results links redirects: Virus or money-maker?

I have an HP Pavilion running Windows 7. I regularly use Norton 360 and PC Tools Performance Toolkit. For the last 3-4 months I have encountered a problem that is increasing in frequency.

When I use Google for a search, and then click on one of the offered selections, about 30 percent of the time I am directed to an unrelated or marginally related site. When I back-arrow to the Google search results, and then click on the same selection, it takes me to the selection. Last week the same thing started happening on Bing.

If this is just a way for the two sites to make some money, I am OK with it (though not delighted with the inconvenience, but it is "free" and can choose to use it or not). If, on the other hand, there is some type of virus/spyware that is redirecting me to a site I did not intend to go, then I want to take care of it.

Has anyone else had a similar problem? Virus? Money-maker? If a virus, is there a reliable way to take care of it?

Thanks for any help you can give.

--Submitted by Marshall W.
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I would

Run a scan with AdwCleaner.

Very easy to use as you can read in the linked page.

It could be interesting reading the final cleanup log that appears upon rebooting the system.

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by KathleenQuinlan / November 1, 2013 12:26 PM PDT
In reply to: I would

Does this cost money? Have you heard of SOPHOS? Is Norton 360 good enough for everything? How do I back up my computer?

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Do yourself a favor...
by JCitizen / November 1, 2013 1:43 PM PDT
In reply to: AdwCleaner

Just stick with the free stuff - there are many good ones mentioned here in the posts. Look for REAL TIME PROTECTION on the freebees, as this will keep the gunk off the computer in the 1st place. I'm pretty sure AdwCleaner is free and effective, but many might like any paid features that are offered from freeware companies. If you have a modern Windows operating system above the basic versions, you already have built in backup utilities, but be prepared to have some kind of separate or external media, like a DVD, flash drive, or external hard drive. Many of my indigent clients simply copy their 'My Documents' folder to a DVD, but be aware how much space your folders are taking up and how much the media can hold in one backup. XP has no built in backup software, but I like Macrium Reflect myself - the user reviews here on CNET are very useful to finding out what is popular and why.

I've heard of nothing but headaches from Norton 360 users, but I must admit that the newest version of Norton Internet Security(NIS) ran wonderfully well on an XP computer circa 2005, so your mileage may vary. I still made sure that client had malware protection, as I haven't had much luck with that in Norton(Symantec) products.

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Please tell me what is free
by charlee95 / November 3, 2013 8:01 AM PST
In reply to: Do yourself a favor...

I have tried ccleaner and the adwcleaner and several others I have seen listed here over the past 2 or 3 years. They tell you what is wrong and ask you if you want to fix it and then tell you to register and then you have to pay. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Sure wish I could get my pc up and running with a FREE program. I have to say I am a PC novice so it might very well be something I am or am not doing that is the problem. I have Windows 7 and use internet explorer.

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AdwCleaner and CCleaner are both FREE
by Carol~ Moderator / November 3, 2013 9:49 AM PST


They tell you what is wrong and ask you if you want to fix it and then tell you to register and then you have to pay

It may be true with some software, but not with Xplode's AdwCleaner and Piriform's CCleaner. Is it possible you're confusing "donate" with "pay"? When downloading from the developer's site, or elsewhere (see below), they may ask for a donation. But it's far from mandatory.


• Blue_Zee suggested downloading Xplode's (the developer) AdwCleaner from here:

Note where BleepingComputer states:
For those who wish to help finance the author's work or want to express your gratitude, he is accepting contributions via Paypal. You can contribute by clicking on the following image:

• Another option would be downloading AdwCleaner from the developer's site. How to use AdwCleaner version 3.x includes download instructions, along with a detailed tutorial.



The left-hand side of the page offers the FREE version, while the right side the (paid) PRO version.

Piriform includes 3 download sites. To avoid problems, I suggest using either of these TWO sites.


Hope this clears things up. If not, please don't hesitate to post back and ask.

Best of luck...

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An afterthought..
by Carol~ Moderator / November 3, 2013 10:00 AM PST

What you described often happens with registry cleaners and/or optimizers. IF it's the kind of software you were referring to, I would steer clear of them. IF it's not the kind you were referring to? Good!! Happy

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It could very well be...
by JCitizen / November 3, 2013 12:04 PM PST
In reply to: An afterthought..

that he hit a poser site that spells the name in similar manner, or worse yet. they may be a criminal poser site. I have run into those in the past, but I'd hope the search engines have cleaned up their act buy now. The following security solutions are all free and have REAL TIME PROTECTION, unless you generously decide to donate. Many of my clients are so grateful they inevitably do!

1. Avast - Avira - Prevx - AVG - all are free anti-virus
2. SpywareBlaster - malicious active X blocker and host file
3. Spybot Search & Destroy - even blocks bad cookies and sites using browser hacks
4. WinPatrol - one of the best HIPS going for intuitive process blocking
5. Comodo or Online Armor - excellent software firewalls(Comodo has a good HIPS with Defense +)
6. Rapport or Immunet - blocks criminals from browser manipulation
7. Sandboxie - contains processes so malicious code is foiled
8. EMET - By Microsoft that adds more process protections to the Windows operating system.
9. NoScript - Firefox has this add on, but Chrome has a similar plugin. Blocks all scripts but what you allow.
10. Cryptoprevent - This is a new one that blocks the terrible cryptolocker virus/malware raging across the country right now! It doesn't need definitions, and neither do some of the other solutions in the list.

And add the fact, as already stated that CCleaner and AdwCleaner are free as well; this is only the tip of the iceberg on what you can do to build a blended defense - ALL for FREE!!

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by charlee95 / November 3, 2013 9:28 PM PST

I did run the CCleaner. It added some things to my list of programs about social privacy--something like that--3 things and put me on outlook for email. I have a scorpion saver that says it was put on yesterday that I could not get rid of and don't remember putting on and I have lost my MSN home page and am totally unable to retrieve it which has never happened before--always able to get it back. Do you know what could have done all of this? Thank you

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by JCitizen / November 3, 2013 11:41 PM PST
In reply to: CCleaner

You have to watch where you get the utilities we are all talking about on CNET:

For CCleaner:


For AdwCleaner:


You should not be seeing the addition of any other crapware from these sources. Be sure and check that you are on these URLs when you go to get them, it is always possible you are being redirected by malware to avoid these sites. I've seen that before. Check the spelling on these URL addresses, as there is no room for error.

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Removing Scorpion Saver
by Carol~ Moderator / November 4, 2013 1:16 AM PST
In reply to: CCleaner

In addition to what JCitizen has advised:.

It's been established Scorpion Saver did not come about as a result of downloading CCleaner from Piriform.

One thing I neglected to add about the CCleaner download in my original post....

The "standard" version of CCleaner may include an option to install Google Chrome and/or the Google Toolbar. Neither of the two are necessary in order for the program to run successfully. If you choose this version, UNcheck the options to install them . Otherwise, install CCleaner's Slim Build, which doesn't include the two Google software options.

In regard to Scorpion Saver.....

You didn't include all that was added to your programs list. But Scorpion Saver is (in part) responsible for some of the issues you're experiencing. The steps and tools in the below guide should be of help. It also explains where you might have gotten the adware from.

Remove Scorpion Saver pop-up ads (Virus Removal Guide)

Again. Any questions.. just ask.

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Removing Scorpion Saver
by charlee95 / November 4, 2013 9:44 AM PST

Hi Carol, Thank you and everyone for all the help and advice. I was able to remove the scorpion.
Went to Internet Ex and clicked on something that reset it. got my msn page back. I will never download a coupon cutter or whatever it is called--that is how I got the scorpion and tried to delete it right away and couldn't. Anyway--I am happy--pc has been cleaned up and updated my windows 7 as I was prompted by Microsoft to do. I am good to go--for a while. Thanks a bunch!! charlee95

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Good News!
by Carol~ Moderator / November 6, 2013 5:12 AM PST

Glad to hear Scorpion Saver is gone. Happy

Consider installing Adblock Plus (especially if using Internet Explorer) to help prevent it from happening again in the future. It blocks the type of "malicious ads" you clicked on. And ... it's free.

If you don't already have a safe browsing tool such as Web of Trust (WOT), I highly recommend it. It shows you which sites are trustworthy and blocks those which are not. Welcome to WOT! explains it in more detail. Their FAQ should answer any questions you might have.

Best of luck..

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Cannot get Adblock Plus
by charlee95 / November 6, 2013 7:10 PM PST
In reply to: Good News!

Tried to download and got an error message that I could not get on the website. Was able to get WOT. Thank you. Hope it helps!

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Alternative Download Link for Adblock Plus
by Carol~ Moderator / November 6, 2013 10:27 PM PST


For some reason or another ( Confused ) the link I provided isn't working for quite a few folks who wish to download ABP for Internet Explorer.

See this post in a thread titled "download IE , error http 403 ==> alternative download" at the top of Adblock Plus' sub-forum Adblock Plus for Internet Explorer.

Here's the installer in case you have a problem finding the (direct download) link within the thread:

Additional information: About Adblock Plus

Hope this (also) helps..

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by charlee95 / November 7, 2013 12:23 AM PST

Thank you, I will try it--glad it wasn't just me.

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by walldoo99 / November 26, 2013 3:59 AM PST
In reply to: CCleaner

You can get great software from bad places. CCLEANER didn't add those things to your system, the download site did. I normally get it from right here at cnet. Even Flash player , you want to make sure you get from Adobe and not some other site as they will install a ton for junk and even Flash player itself want to ad Mc Afee. You have to watch for these things.

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@walidoo99, Download sites
by btljooz / November 26, 2013 8:35 AM PST
In reply to: ccleaner

Yes, you do have to watch for toobars, other junkware or unwanted stuff when you download software from download sites. I have even been infested from here in CNet, too, although that's been several years ago. That is why I always make sure that I download software from its OWN website unless it re-directs to here at CNet. The only other software download site that I trust is oldapps.com when I really do need the older version of a program.

As far as CCleaner is concerned, if one gets its .exe file from its OWN site at https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner the only thing you have to worry about is (like all software) watching the install process and deselecting what you don't want if anything like that is included. It's been a while since I installed it and I don't recall right off the bat if there is anything like that to actually deal with. I do know for a fact that I've never been infested by Piriform, EVER. And I use several of their other programs, too.

In addition to which, I do NOT allow Adobe to install things on my computer from its website. I download the .exe file of the Flash that I need and install it, myself, after uninstalling and cleaning up after the previous version. And I do not use Adobe Reader. I use Foxit Reader, instead. It has better security and more functions so is all 'round just a better software.

Carol gives some extremely good advice. I would listen to her above and beyond a lot of others in here. Wink

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Programs that do the work for you
by btljooz / November 4, 2013 1:15 AM PST

Hi charlee95,

As a computer novice it is only natural to want a program that does the work for you. But, you see, one has to know what they are doing in the first place in order to use these programs/tools. If you don't know what you are doing you: a. run into the problems that you have already encountered (or worse yet, some sort of rogue-ware that will commandeer your computer and is not easy to get rid of, if at all without a re-installation of the OS) and b. run the very real chance of telling a legit program to do something that will hose your computer [requiring an OS re-install).

Therefore, I strongly suggest that you stick with what Carol has explained for you and find a good friend to who really does know their stuff to help you learn how to clean your computer manually so that you'll be able to pick the tools that expedite the process and use them in a much more educated manner.

Yes, messing in the Registry is very dangerous business whether or not you do it manually or with a "cleaner" such as TweakNow Registry Cleaner that I've used for years. TweakNow is extremely powerful and it CAN and WILL hose your computer if you tell it to do the wrong thing. But it is a valuable tool when you know what you are doing, but not before that time.

I hope this helps. Happy

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Programs that do the work for you
by charlee95 / November 4, 2013 9:46 AM PST

I understand what you are saying--what I know already--I am a novice and need to be extra careful. After this incident, I will be. All is well now. Thank you very much. charlee95

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Trend Micro's hijackthis free download at cnet
by rob tomba / November 5, 2013 11:34 AM PST

Run trend micros hijackthis. The BHO objects in the output are browser helper objects. Delete the ones that are suspicious or unwanted.

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Redirect Virus
by osbuck / November 2, 2013 10:42 PM PDT
In reply to: I would

I had this problem using Google Chrome, tried everything, could not get rid of it, so I switched to Firefox, problem gone and so is Google Chrome....I like Firefox better anyway Happy

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You have to do some things to clean Chrome correctly...
by BubbaKatz / November 3, 2013 11:37 AM PST
In reply to: Redirect Virus

Get to settings in Chrome.

Then check to make sure that the search engines are not the redirect engines, I use google and then click manage search engines and clear out anything that is not google.

Go to extensions and then make sure that you eliminate any that are not installed by you or if done by accident. Default Tab is an infection and the only way to clean that is to do the following: (Close Chrome first)

On Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\Your User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\
On Windows Vista, 7 or 8: C:\Users\Your User Name\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\
On Mac OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/
On Linux: ~/.config/google-chrome/

Delete the DEFAULT profile and Chrome is reset.

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When you click on those search results...
by wpgwpg / October 11, 2013 10:23 AM PDT

...you make your clicks and you take your chances. Sometimes you have little choice but to try and hope. I try to only go to sites I know I can trust, but sometimes that's not an option. The best you can do is to have a good antivirus, keep it up to date, and scan for malware regularly with something like MalwareBytes. When/if you start seeing "strange things" happen, it's a good idea to boot to Safe Mode and do a full system scan.

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Hi Marshall,

Your experience in almost certainly the result of what's called a "Redirect". Usually these redirects are a result of some program or toolbar you have installed. Here are a couple of things you should check to fix your annoying problem.

First - Use your Browser's tool menu to look at what extensions have been installed to your Browser. Delete any toolbars or other items that look unfamiliar, or unneeded.

Next - Use Control Panel - Programs and Features to scan for any installed programs or toolbars that may have been unintentionally installed.

Next - Make sure to do a complete Whole Computer Scan for any viruses/malware that may have been introduced to your system.

These annoying redirects are often add-on's to some program or feature that users download. They can often be avoided by carefully looking at the installation GUI as you install downloads. Often times there are check-boxes that have their defaults set to allow the installer to install additional items. You should almost always decline (not check) these add-on's.

I'm also not a fan of Toolbars. My axiom about Toolbars is that they always come with a price. Somewhere in the background behind every toolbar is someone trying to mine your data or sell you something. Remember, if it's free they're going to try to make money somewhere else!!! Kind of like the redirects you described.

If you follow the steps described above and you find you still have a problem, you could try doing a System Restore to a date before the redirects began. As follows:

Start -> type System Restore -> Enter -> follow the prompts for restoring your computer to an earlier date, and set the system back to before the redirects.

Good luck Marshall

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Had that problem too
by rmjboog / October 11, 2013 11:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Redirect!!!

And it was absolutely frustrating. Every time I clicked a main link I'd get a redirect to some other site, usually a random one. To make matters worse, I once ran a Google search on that particular redirect virus, and the damned thing then completely locked me out of Google! I contacted Google support about it a couple of times, but surprisingly they couldn't tell me how to solve the problem. Turned out to be malware called ad-somethingorother (I've forgotten the name ) installed with a toolbar. A lot of times it would send me to Bing, and at other times to some random site. Unfortunately, it was quite a while ago and I've forgotten the name of the toolbar. But it was pretty common, and the fix was really easy. Download something called TDSS Killer from Kaspersky Labs (it was free then, probably still is) and run it. Thirty seconds later your problem will be solved.
There was another toolbar called PriceGrabber that acted pretty much the same way. All you have to do to kill it is go to your Google settings page (link in the upper right-hand corner of your screen) and turn off the Pricegrabber extension, then delete it.
Gotta love easy fixes that actually work.

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had the same problem
by irene257 / November 2, 2013 2:00 AM PDT
In reply to: Had that problem too

I had the problem with mapquest. I was trying to get a local direction to someplace and I kept on getting redirected somewhere else. Very frustrating. I had to keep on uninstalling the program.

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Toolbars be gone
by cnetmessageman / October 18, 2013 11:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Redirect!!!

I believe that "High Desert Charlie's" advice is right on the money. Used to be you could trust sites like CNET Downloads, Adobe, and other legitimate site to allow you to download and install just the program(s) you are seeking but this is no longer true. In fact, even though these sites usually let you opt out of installing the extra programs, the wording varies and can deceptively imply that if you don't let the extra program install then the entire installation will be terminated.
(1) As "High Desert Charlie" suggests, read the installation and/or download GUI very carefully before you advance to the next page.
(2) Select a custom rather than an express install.
(3) Deselect or choose to decline when another program install is mentioned.

In addition, I would also:
(1) Run a Full System Scan (not a Quick Scan) at least once every 2 weeks using your installed up-to-date antivirus.
(2) Download and install Revo Uninstaller (free or pro version)
(3) Using Revo remove/uninstall all Browser Toolbars

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Better yet...
by JCitizen / November 1, 2013 12:30 PM PDT
In reply to: Toolbars be gone

Just go to Majorgeeks, where these highjinks are limited to the author of the software. It is way easier to uncheck or opt out on a few of the solutions over there; because most of them are squeaky clean in the first place.

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I think I know how/when I caught mine
by critesl / November 3, 2013 2:36 AM PST
In reply to: Toolbars be gone

I downloaded Open Office onto an old ThinkPad running XP, from where, I do not remember. I usually am mindful and try to select what seem to be upright sites. Soon afterward I began experiencing tons of redirects and slowness. The latest version of F-Secure did not catch anything on a full system scan. F-Secure has never let me down. I was bummed.

Soon thereafter I downloaded Open Office onto a desktop running Windows 7. I downloaded from the CNET site and have not had any problems.

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Be careful when you click links in search engines...
by BubbaKatz / November 3, 2013 6:44 AM PST

I am betting that the clink you clicked to download the program was not from the real site, but a download site that pays for search engine placement.

http://www.openoffice.org/ <---- real site

http://download.openoffice.fm/free/ <not the real site

Most of my clients have been educated at their expense to not download from a source that is not the TRUE domain.


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