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What is SearchAholic?

The Malwarebytes research team has determined that SearchAholic is a search hijacker. These so-called "hijackers" manipulate your browser(s), for example to change your startpage or searchscopes, so that the affected browser visits their site or one of their choice.
This particular one is a search hijacker and uses web push notifications.

How do I know if my computer is affected by SearchAholic?

You may see this entry in your list of installed Chrome extensions:

main.png

and these warnings during install:

warning1.png

warning2.png

warning3.png

You will see this icon in your Chrome menu-bar:

icons.png

and this changed setting:

warning5.png

How did SearchAholic get on my computer?

Browser hijackers use different methods for distributing themselves. This particular one was downloaded from the webstore:

webstore.png

after a redirect from their website:

website.png

How do I remove SearchAholic?

Our program Malwarebytes can detect and remove this potentially unwanted program.

  • Please download Malwarebytes for Windows to your desktop.
  • Double-click MBSetup.exe and follow the prompts to install the program.
  • When your Malwarebytes for Windows installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen.
  • Click on the Get started button.
  • Click Scan to start a Threat Scan.
  • When the scan is finished click Quarantine to remove the found threats.
  • Reboot the system if prompted to complete the removal process.

Is there anything else I need to do to get rid of SearchAholic?

  • No, Malwarebytes removes SearchAholic completely.
  • If you have allowed the notifications you can read here how to disable them.

How would the full version of Malwarebytes help protect me?

We hope our application and this guide have helped you eradicate this hijacker.

As you can see below the full version of Malwarebytes would have protected you against the SearchAholic hijacker. It would have blocked their website, giving you a chance to stop before it became too late.


 

protection2.png

 

Technical details for experts

Possible signs in FRST logs:


 

CHR DefaultSearchURL: Default -> hxxps://feed.search-aholic.com/?q={searchTerms}&publisher=searchaholic&barcodeid=571450000000000
CHR DefaultSearchKeyword: Default -> SearchAholic
CHR DefaultSuggestURL: Default -> hxxps://api.search-aholic.com/suggest/get?q={searchTerms}
CHR Extension: (SearchAholic) - C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg [2020-05-13]

Alterations made by the installer:
 

File system details [View: All details] (Selection)
---------------------------------------------------
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\1.1.0_0
       Adds the file manifest.json"="5/13/2020 10:20 AM, 2090 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\1.1.0_0\_metadata
       Adds the file computed_hashes.json"="5/13/2020 10:20 AM, 6255 bytes, A
       Adds the file verified_contents.json"="3/30/2020 1:19 PM, 2049 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\1.1.0_0\images
       Adds the file logo-white-text.png"="3/30/2020 1:19 PM, 0 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\1.1.0_0\images\icons
       Adds the file 128x128.png"="5/13/2020 10:20 AM, 6568 bytes, A
       Adds the file 16x16.png"="5/13/2020 10:20 AM, 694 bytes, A
       Adds the file 64x64.png"="5/13/2020 10:20 AM, 3361 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\1.1.0_0\scripts
       Adds the file background.js"="3/30/2020 1:19 PM, 514579 bytes, A
       Adds the file sitecontent.js"="3/30/2020 1:19 PM, 77 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg
       Adds the file 000003.log"="5/13/2020 10:25 AM, 526 bytes, A
       Adds the file CURRENT"="5/13/2020 10:21 AM, 16 bytes, A
       Adds the file LOCK"="5/13/2020 10:21 AM, 0 bytes, A
       Adds the file LOG"="5/13/2020 10:25 AM, 183 bytes, A
       Adds the file MANIFEST-000001"="5/13/2020 10:21 AM, 41 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Web Applications\_crx_offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg
       Adds the file SearchAholic.ico"="5/13/2020 10:21 AM, 192874 bytes, A
       Adds the file SearchAholic.ico.md5"="5/13/2020 10:21 AM, 16 bytes, A

Registry details [View: All details] (Selection)
------------------------------------------------
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs\Default\extensions.settings]
       "offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg"="REG_SZ", "DD9AD30F50AC2BB70A60B63C120AAC8A2BD2C18B29026BB598DFBB75CEF7F1DC"

Malwarebytes log:
 

Malwarebytes
www.malwarebytes.com

-Log Details-
Scan Date: 5/13/20
Scan Time: 10:45 AM
Log File: 2152e610-94f6-11ea-b338-00ffdcc6fdfc.json

-Software Information-
Version: 4.1.0.56
Components Version: 1.0.896
Update Package Version: 1.0.23752
License: Premium

-System Information-
OS: Windows 7 Service Pack 1
CPU: x64
File System: NTFS
User: {computername}\{username}

-Scan Summary-
Scan Type: Threat Scan
Scan Initiated By: Manual
Result: Completed
Objects Scanned: 233222
Threats Detected: 13
Threats Quarantined: 13
Time Elapsed: 3 min, 28 sec

-Scan Options-
Memory: Enabled
Startup: Enabled
Filesystem: Enabled
Archives: Enabled
Rootkits: Disabled
Heuristics: Enabled
PUP: Detect
PUM: Detect

-Scan Details-
Process: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Module: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Key: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Registry Value: 1
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, HKCU\SOFTWARE\GOOGLE\CHROME\PREFERENCEMACS\Default\extensions.settings|offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 

Registry Data: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Data Stream: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Folder: 2
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\DEFAULT\EXTENSIONS\OFFHIHKPLCDCEGFHCMOIICDFOPLMOAFG, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, 1.0.23752, , ame, 

File: 10
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Secure Preferences, Replaced, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Preferences, Replaced, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\000003.log, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\CURRENT, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\LOCK, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\LOG, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Sync Extension Settings\offhihkplcdcegfhcmoiicdfoplmoafg\MANIFEST-000001, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, , , , 
Adware.SearchEngineHijack.Generic, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\DEFAULT\EXTENSIONS\OFFHIHKPLCDCEGFHCMOIICDFOPLMOAFG\1.1.0_0\MANIFEST.JSON, Quarantined, 15159, 799722, 1.0.23752, , ame, 
PUP.Optional.PushNotifications, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Secure Preferences, Replaced, 203, 813374, 1.0.23752, , ame, 
PUP.Optional.PushNotifications, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Secure Preferences, Replaced, 203, 813374, 1.0.23752, , ame, 

Physical Sector: 0
(No malicious items detected)

WMI: 0
(No malicious items detected)


(end)

As mentioned before the full version of Malwarebytes could have protected your computer against this threat.
We use different ways of protecting your computer(s):

  • Dynamically Blocks Malware Sites & Servers
  • Malware Execution Prevention

Save yourself the hassle and get protected.

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