So, you need to get rid of Search Encrypt on your Chromebook.
This extension is constantly showing up when you search online. And your Chrome settings are being screwed with.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What Search Encrypt does
- Whether it’s safe or not
- How to completely remove it from Chrome
- Other ways to protect yourself
- Privacy extensions that do work
- And more
Sound good? Let’s get this sketchy app off your Chromebook!
What’s Search Encrypt?
Search Encrypt is advertised to be a “privacy-centered” web browser that safeguards your privacy.
The reality of it is that people get suckered into download it as an extension to Chrome or a direct download to their computer.
This extension seems to be far from being any tool that protects you online, and you can judge for yourself by reading reviews from people who’ve used the software.
It’s considered a browser hijacker, which is just a fancy phrase for a program that takes over your internet browser- whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.
Note that it DOES advertise to encrypt your searches, and from what I’ve read, it does.
But what else does it do? What else does it collect? What else does it change?
Why are there so many sketchy reviews about it online?
If it is software that protects your privacy, I’d be hard-pressed to use it unless they come out and explain the reasons behind the reviews left other users first.
But if you’re here to remove this software from your Chromebook (or Chrome itself), read on.
What does Search Encrypt do exactly?
The software itself is supposed to shield prying eyes from spying on your online presence, such as your web browsing activity, downloads, sites you visit, etc.
But while it MAY or MAY NOT do that, it also collects your information and does some questionable things with it.
Who knows if the search encryption is even encrypted? Or are they spying? Yikes.
From reading user reports, it acts like a search engine that hides your search queries. It does mess with your default tabs by directing the searches through their engine. It’ll show ads at the top of the page as you browse, search, and do whatever.
Plus, it can change your start page without your consent. This is the default page you start on Chrome (AKA homepage).
Search Encrypt can do any of the following, which makes it easy to tell if you have it installed.
These types of browser hijackers typically can be discovered by the following:
- Redirects your Google, Bing, or Yahoo searches to a different page
- Slow down your browsing performance
- Popup ads
- New tabs being opened automatically
- Randomly being brought to “the wrong page” that you weren’t expecting
- Redirections to pages or websites that you’ve never seen before
- Intrusive ads everywhere
- Search Encrypt in the URL bar
- Search Encrypt constantly coming up on your session
- Chrome, Firefox, or Safari constantly redirecting to the software
- Homepage or startpage being changed or manipulated
- Pages with tons of ads
- Pages asking you to download software, players, or plugins
- Broken pages that require “software” or specific players to run or display
- Pages that are slow or fail to load
- 404 pages
- Pages asking for payments or software downloads
- Obscene content
- Random pages that have nothing to do with your search you typed
How did Search Encrypt get on my Chromebook?
This is malware, so there are different ways it can distribute itself onto your instance of Chrome.
They can come packaged with other software, install through programs/apps with or without your permission, or you may have installed it directly from the Chrome Web Store.
Is Search Encrypt safe?
Probably not. It’s not safe because it’s considered to be a hijacker based on reports from reputable malware companies.
It could potentially be spying on your data and selling it, collecting it, or other malpractice.
Do NOT ever enter financial or sensitive data while using the software. Remove it right away.
Based on reports from Nordlocker and Malwarebytes (both of which are reputable companies), Search Encrypt isn’t safe:
What’s a browser hijacker?
Broadly put, a browser hijacker is a piece of code written into a software program, app, etc. that changes the browser’s capabilities and functionality.
It can pretty much take over and control every aspect of the browser to the developer’s liking. It’s often distributed bundled with some innocent software or downloaded secretly without the user knowing or blindly agreeing to it.
Is Search Encrypt a virus?
It’s considered to be malware because it’s a browser hijacker, which isn’t exactly a virus.
But it’s just as bad as any other virus, trojan, etc. It’s not safe to keep on your Chromebook and you should get rid of it right away.
Note that SearchEncrypt DOES use encryption to keep searches private, but it does have a lot of sketchy reports surrounding it floating around the web (see previous section).
What it does with your session or data it collects, I have no idea. There are too many shady reports out there for SE for me to trust it at this point.
Unless they come out with a detailed application to alleviate the rumors surrounding its shady nature, I doubt many people will use it.
Why does search encrypt keep coming up?
Do your Google searches keep redirecting to Search Encrypt? Does it reared by itself?
Since it takes over your computer, it’ll redirect your searches to any of these domains:
They’re all related to the same company (Polarity Technologies Ltd.). It’s basically “forcing” you to use their software so they can harvest your data and show their ads (and make money while doing so).
If you see your google searches redirecting your queries randomly to their site, then it’s a sure sign you have the extension installed on your Chromebook somewhere.
These browser hijackers will force you to change your homepage or start page to something else entirely- probably a page that you’ve never seen before.
Or if your searches are going to random pages filled with ads or downloads for software, this is also likely the work of it.
They can change/manipulate your Chrome settings to whatever they want and change your default pages and searches.
Search Encrypt Extension
The extension has been removed from the Chrome Web Store at the time of this writing. It probably received a bunch of complaints or violated policy and was taken off the store. It makes sense.
At least future Chrome users won’t have to deal with Search Encrypt through the Web Store.
It was released as “Search-Encrypt 2.2.16” with a statement that read:
“Keep your searches private by redirecting searches that may be tracked to Search Encrypt, a privacy-focused search engine.”
There were settings or automatic updates if you went into the extension’s options page.
There would be a line of text that says the following description:
“Stop big companies from tracking your searches and following you around the Internet.”
The app can’t be downloaded now, so that’s good.
But if you downloaded it before it was removed, you’re screwed. Remove the app immediately.
However, it’s still available directly through their site. So people can still, unfortunately, be baited into downloading it as it’s cleverly disguised as a privacy-focused search engine.
For being a private search engine, that’s kind of doing the opposite.
If you want an actual search engine that focuses on privacy, use DuckDuckGo.
How to remove Search Encrypt from Chromebook
There are multiple ways to remove this malware from your computer.
We’ll cover each one in detail so you can get rid of it completely.
Start from the first solution to the last, as each will be more invasive.
You may be able to remove Search Encrypt without much effort, so we’ll begin by using the easiest and most straightforward technique.
Remove it from your extensions
If you were one of the unfortunate ones who were tricked into downloading the extension from the Chrome Web Store BEFORE it was removed, you may still have it on your Chromebook.
Remove it from Chrome by going to your extension and make sure it’s completely erased from the list of extensions- NOT just disabled.
- Launch Chrome
- Type in “chrome://extensions” in the URL bar and hit Enter
- Find Search Enctypt in the list
- Remove it
Remove it from Chrome
Congrats. It’s gone from your Chromebook.
But the data they may have collected about your browsing habits is probably on their servers. There’s no way to remove this on your end that I know of.
Be careful about downloading these extensions in the future.
“If it’s free, you are the product.”
Reset Chrome browser settings
If you’ve already removed the extension Chrome is still redirecting you to Search Encrypt and it keeps popping up randomly, you may need to reset your Chrome browser settings.
This is easy to do and will get you back to the default settings without losing any data:
- First, launch Chrome.
- Go to “chrome://settings” in the URL bar
- Find the Advanced Settings button near the bottom
- Go to “Reset Settings”
- Click “Reset”
This will restore everything back to the default settings, which should fix anything that was changed by the malware extension.
If you’ve been seeing random pop-ups, ads, or your homepage changed, the reset process will fix it.
Can’t find it using those steps? Try launching Chrome, then doing the following to resolve the problem:
- Type “chrome://settings/reset” in the URL bar
- Hit Enter
- Find the section that reads “Restore settings to their original defaults” and click on it
Restart the Chromebook completely (use the menu option- not just closing and opening the lid because that’s not restarting)
This will bring Chrome back to factory settings like before- without erasing your Chromebook. If your start page (homepage) was changed because of Search Encrypt, this will restore it back to normal.
Restore using a Chrome OS recovery save
If you made a Chrome OS recovery state using the Recovery Utility, you can restore your Chrome OS back to that safe state.
The majority of people don’t utilize this feature, so like not.
But if you did, here’s a guide on restoring your Chromebook using the Recovery Utility.
This can easily repair your Chromebook if it’s been screwed up by malware, virus, exploits, and all the other nasties that exist on the interwebs.
Powerwash your Chromebook
When you’ve tried everything and you still can’t get rid of that blasted extension, it’s time to bring out the heat.
Powerwashing your Chromebook will restore it to factory defaults and get rid of everything- malware, viruses, trojans, etc.
Chrome OS is largely secure and most people will never get a virus, but if you think you have something weird going on with your device, a Powerwash will clear it.
Here’s a guide on how to restore your Chromebook.
Be sure to make a backup of your important data first, because this will erase EVERYTHING. But it lets you start from a clean slate.
So you can start fresh.
Search privacy extensions that are well respected
If you’re looking to stay as private as possible online, there are a lot of other ways to protect your privacy on your Chromebook.
Here are some extensions worth checking out:
- DuckDuckGo Suite
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Privacy Badger
- A secure VPN (there are plenty of free VPNS)
You can also read this guide on staying private on your Chromebook.
Were you able to remove Search Encrypt from Chrome?
You should now have all the knowledge you need to get rid of the malware from your Chromebook. Search Encrypt can be frustrating, but it’s easy to remove with some simple steps.
Chrome OS, by nature, is self-healing and self-repairing.
So no worries- you won’t be stuck with this randomly redirecting browser hijacker if you just follow the process.
Get your search engine back and stop being automatically redirected through theirs!
If you’re having difficulties, post a comment below and I’ll try to help you out.
Or if this guide resolved your issue, I’d love to know.
Thanks for reading!