To understand a PUP is to break its name down. Firstly, it is a genuine program (in the majority of cases) – it is something that works and has a function, albeit it a perhaps not amazing one. But, to many minds, a PUP or a browser hijacker can still be termed as malware. But why is this and how do browser hijackers and PUPs differ to 'actual' malware? Well, it is this absence of maliciousness that means istart.webssearches.com is only 'potentially' unwanted. Of course, even if you didn't install it you may, over time, come to get used to it and perhaps even prefer it to your browser's default home page or search eingine. But there is a flip side too to browser hijacker and that is despite appearing to be useful, they can also, as mentioned above, be pretty darn annoying - hence the potentially unwanted.
So is istart.webssearches.com malware or not?In short, no. However, it's a bit of a tricky one as the potential part of the PUPs name means that it falls between the gaps somewhat and most people fall into one of two camps. Many people would agree that the installation of this browser hijacker is definitely not the worst thing to happen to your PC, but even if you do quite like the new home page that the browser hijacker installed it probably won't take you all that long before it starts getting on your nerves. First of all, this browser hijacker modifies many browser settings and Windows registry keys. Secondly, it hijacks browser shortcuts. Thirdly, it displays ads and may redirect you very questionable websites. What is more, it usually comes bundled with other PUPs and adware programs. Which means your computer is probably infected with more unwanted programs that you expected. It could be a nightmare to remove all the suspicious files from your computer manually, especially when you have no clue were and what to look for. My advise would be to run a full system scan with recommended anti-malware software.
If you think that it's not so bad after all, think again. As I said, istart.webssearches.com will change the settings of your default internet browser so that when you try and search for a website you want to visit you'll find yourself being constantly directed to websites that the PUPs owner wants you to visit instead. They might also change your actual home page to one of their own as well as targeting you with a steady stream of pop-up ads.
This is what blurs the lines between malware and purely unwanted; it really does depend on how annoying you find unwanted programs on your PC compared to being able to download for free.
Avoiding and removing istart.webssearches.comThe silver lining is that the majority of PUPs and browser hijackers are easy to delete from your system. You can action this via the Windows Control Panel. But you should try and avoiding having a browser hijacker installed on your PC in the first place. Make sure your patches and installed software are up to date and never download programs from third party websites or if you're at all concerned about a site's reputation. And don't forget to read software license agreements carefully as many of them will tell you if you're also installing a PUP or a browser hijacker. If you need help removing it from your computer, please leave a comment below. But first, follow the steps in the istart.webssearches.com removal guide below. Good luck and be safe online!.
Written by Michael Kaur, http://deletemalware.blogspot.com
Istart.webssearches.com removal instructions:
1. First of all, download recommended anti-malware software and run a full system scan. It will detect and remove this infection from your computer. You may then follow the manual removal instructions below to remove the leftover traces of this infection. Hopefully you won't have to do that.
2. As this infection is known to be installed by vulnerabilities in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you use an automatic software update tool to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer.
3. Remove istart.webssearches.com related programs from your computer using the Add/Remove Programs control panel (Windows XP) or Uninstall a program control panel (Windows 7 and Windows 8).
Go to the Start Menu. Select Control Panel → Add/Remove Programs.
If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, select Control Panel → Uninstall a Program.
If you are using Windows 8, simply drag your mouse pointer to the right edge of the screen, select Search from the list and search for "control panel".
Or you can right-click on a bottom left hot corner (formerly known as the Start button) and select Control panel from there.
4. When the Add/Remove Programs or the Uninstall a Program screen is displayed, scroll through the list of currently installed programs and remove the WPM18.104.22.16859 and webssearches uninstaller programs.
If you are using Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, click Uninstall up near the top of that window. When you're done, please close the Control Panel screen.
Remove istart.webssearches.com from Google Chrome:
1. Click on Chrome menu button. Go to Tools → Extensions.
2. Ensure that the Developer mode checkbox in the top right-hand corner is checked. Go to Chrome extensions directory and delete the folder Extended Protection extension is loaded from.
3. Then select Settings. Scroll down the page and click Show advanced settings.
4. Find the Reset browser settings section and click Reset browser settings button.
5. In the dialog that appears, click Reset. Close Chrome.
6. Right-click Google Chrome shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.
7. Select Shortcut tab and remove "http://istart.webssearches.com/?type..." from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Chrome executable file.
Remove istart.webssearches.com from Mozilla Firefox:
1. Open Mozilla Firefox. In the URL address bar, type about:config and hit Enter.
Click I'll be careful, I promise! to continue.
In the search filter at the top, type: webssearches
Now, you should see all the preferences that were changed by Webs Searches. Right-click on the preference and select Reset to restore default value. Reset all found preferences!
4. Right-click the Mozilla Firefox shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.
5. Select Shortcut tab and remove "http://istart.webssearches.com/?type..." from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Firefox executable file.
Remove istart.webssearches.com from Internet Explorer:
1. Open Internet Explorer. Go to Tools → Manage Add-ons.
2. Select Search Providers. First of all, choose Live Search search engine and make it your default web search provider (Set as default).
3. Select Webs Searches and click Remove to remove it. Close the window.
4. Right-click the Internet Explorer shortcut you are using to open your web browser and select Properties.
5. Select Shortcut tab and remove "http://istart.webssearches.com/?type..." from the Target field and click OK to save changes. Basically, there should be only the path to Internet Explorer executable file.
6. Finally, go to Tools → Internet Options and restore your home page to default. That's it!