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What is Cactus Search?

The Malwarebytes research team has determined that Cactus Search 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 also a browser NewTab.

How do I know if my computer is affected by Cactus Search?

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


these changed settings:



You may have noticed these warnings during install:




How did Cactus Search get on my computer?

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


after a redirect from their website:


How do I remove Cactus Search?

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 Cactus Search?

  • No, Malwarebytes removes Cactus Search completely.

How would the full version of Malwarebytes help protect me?

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

Malwarebytes Browser Guard, as well as the full version of Malwarebytes would have protected you against the Cactus Search hijacker. It would have blocked their website, giving you a chance to stop it before it became too late.






Technical details for experts

Possible signs in FRST logs:


CHR NewTab: Default ->  Active:"chrome-extension://cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk/newtab.html"
CHR DefaultSearchURL: Default -> hxxps://cactus-search.com/search?q={searchTerms}
CHR DefaultSearchKeyword: Default -> Cactussearch
CHR Extension: (Cactus Search) - C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk [2021-03-11]

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\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0
       Adds the file index.html"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 457 bytes, A
       Adds the file manifest.json"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 1871 bytes, A
       Adds the file newtab.html"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 410 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0\_locales\en
       Adds the file messages.json"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 245 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0\_metadata
       Adds the file computed_hashes.json"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 2342 bytes, A
       Adds the file verified_contents.json"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 2555 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0\content
       Adds the file partnerScript.js"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 236 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0\icons
       Adds the file 128.png"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 5152 bytes, A
       Adds the file 16.png"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 640 bytes, A
       Adds the file 48.png"="3/11/2021 8:56 AM, 1864 bytes, A
    Adds the folder C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Extensions\cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk\1.2.0_0\js
       Adds the file app.js"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 130069 bytes, A
       Adds the file app.js.LICENSE.txt"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 790 bytes, A
       Adds the file app.js.map"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 77 bytes, A
       Adds the file background.js"="11/19/2020 4:06 PM, 10925 bytes, A

Registry details [View: All details] (Selection)
       "cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk"="REG_SZ", "0D88E6C90AF195940F7E4D729277B0F7C6D25230EAB718DE88399279723D6935"

Malwarebytes log:


-Log Details-
Scan Date: 3/11/21
Scan Time: 9:05 AM
Log File: 838e50c0-8240-11eb-9c65-080027235d76.json

-Software Information-
Components Version: 1.0.1173
Update Package Version: 1.0.37987
License: Premium

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

-Scan Summary-
Scan Type: Threat Scan
Scan Initiated By: Manual
Result: Completed
Objects Scanned: 233379
Threats Detected: 5
Threats Quarantined: 5
Time Elapsed: 4 min, 2 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
PUP.Optional.CactusSearch, HKCU\SOFTWARE\GOOGLE\CHROME\PREFERENCEMACS\Default\extensions.settings|cfmfhjkkbmhnjadclpiegblfmddccdjk, Quarantined, 16221, 919244, , , , , , 

Registry Data: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Data Stream: 0
(No malicious items detected)

Folder: 1
PUP.Optional.CactusSearch, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\DEFAULT\EXTENSIONS\CFMFHJKKBMHNJADCLPIEGBLFMDDCCDJK, Quarantined, 16221, 919244, 1.0.37987, , ame, , , 

File: 3
PUP.Optional.CactusSearch, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Secure Preferences, Replaced, 16221, 919244, , , , , 8F2D8409E0495EB20708075BCBE1D710, 039025B1CB131EDB04E180E35A9A95BAEF30ED31F5CB7A73CDAF30C99361C02D
PUP.Optional.CactusSearch, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\Default\Preferences, Replaced, 16221, 919244, , , , , 32973ECFD5DB4F587FE0F173F4F14247, 3FA98395C0329E660C7526158761905299D683C9050241F948B08960A748EC2D
PUP.Optional.CactusSearch, C:\USERS\{username}\APPDATA\LOCAL\GOOGLE\CHROME\USER DATA\DEFAULT\EXTENSIONS\CFMFHJKKBMHNJADCLPIEGBLFMDDCCDJK\1.2.0_0\MANIFEST.JSON, Quarantined, 16221, 919244, 1.0.37987, , ame, , CFB3C921AB7C33A48E5F1303BE684A26, 97A5CF8EA986B9EC6454B2CAFA8C5F0E29E71CF93BB5A71D96A5B08332290534

Physical Sector: 0
(No malicious items detected)

WMI: 0
(No malicious items detected)


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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