Sometime during the evening of Wednesday, April 1st both the browsers on my Windows 7 – 64 bit Ultimate workstation contracted an odious piece of malware called ‘Startsear’.

I spent 6 hours yesterday trying to delete it using both malware removal tools as well as manually. I find it highly ironic that the info on the web – as well as the malware tools themselves – refer to Startsear as a PuP; which stands for Potentially unwanted Program.

Bullshit. If I can’t delete it in Control Panel (because it doesn’t show up in the list as a program) and it makes changes to Windows Registry as well as hides and puts hooks into other parts of the OS, not to mention hijacks my browser, and reports my web-browsing activity to some company who in turn uses that info to either sell or otherwise compromise my information and safety; then no. Startsear is not a Potentially unwanted Program; it’s out and out malware.

Mozilla Firefox – you bastards – are complicit. Just like Internet Explorer. I don’t as a general rule use IE but I used it Thursday morning after I deleted Firefox on my machine to download a fresh copy and reinstall Firefox.  And that’s when I discovered IE was infected as well. So Mozilla (and IE) why can’t you police up your own shit? That’s what I want to know. Bastards.

The freshly installed Firefox came up infected. I went online and Mozilla said to remove Smartsear manually you only needed to reset/refresh the browser; which deletes all the plugins, etc. supposedly taking you back to the virgin state. Bullshit. It didn’t work for Firefox. And the same technique didn’t purge IE either.

So I downloaded a worthless piece of shit called AdwCleaner. It said it removed something like 10 pieces of adware/malware but it didn’t touch the Smartsear virus. I am calling Smartsear a virus – which it really isn’t – it’s more in reality like digital dogshit; something like dogshit that once you get it on yourself, you can never get rid of completely.

Then I downloaded SuperAntiSpyware. Another inefective piece of crap. All the meanwhile reboot. Test. Reboot. Test. And as I said, like digital dogshit, Smartsear was still there.

Then I downloaded Adware Removal Tool v3.9. Nadda.

Then I downloaded Spyhunter 4. It spent 30 minutes or more analyzing my system and found a remarkable 118 infections including Smartsear. Oh, you want those infections removed? That’ll be $39.95 please.

Huh? And that’s after hanging on the edge of my chair for all that time, watching the screen scroll, racking up one infection after another. So when I clicked on remove (or quarantine, whatever) and it pushed me to their website to make a payment first, I have to say that it didn’t seem so much like a payment as it felt more like ransom.

I tried earlier on to reload the wonderful app that I had run the last time I had a similar problem only to have Malwarebytes tell me that my trial license had expired.

But wait a minute. There is a free version of Malwarebytes. But I couldn’t find where to download it. The downloads I tried (and tried) were all exactly the same package and it kept denying my right to use it, reporting that my trial license had already expired.

At that point I was ready to put the barrel of a 12 gauge in my mouth and pull the trigger. But I persevered, rogering on as the Brits would say, till where I finally found that if I clicked on ‘End Free Trial’ – totally (totally) unintuitive – that was what released the free version. And so up and running I was.

Malwarebytes found 8 pieces of malware and removed them. I was so grateful – and with tears of relief flooding my eyes – I can’t say I remember paying attention to if it actually removed something called Smartsear by name. But I rebooted. Retested. Rebooted. Everything looked hunky-dory so I thought I was out of the woods.

Then I fired up my workstation this morning to find that damn winking homepage of Smartsear.info was still f**king there. In my already overcaffeinated state, I was so angry I thought my heart was going to explode. I certainly wanted to kill somebody at that point but not myself.

I took a few deep breaths and decided to try again. I did the manual refresh of the Firefox browser and then ran Malwarebytes again. This time it actually found a PuP identified as Smartsear. I hit quarantine/delete.

I hope that’s the end of it.

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