How to Remove Topic Torch from your Internet Browser

by JoHarrington

Topic Torch is an annoying toolbar, which just appears without warning at the foot of your browser window. But this spyware is easy enough to remove.

What is Topic Torch? People all over cyber-space are scratching their heads. Certified geeks have sworn on a stack of motherboards that they haven't downloaded anything dodgy.

Well, no dodgier than usual; and certainly not without running it through first to ensure that it was clean. But there it is. A strip toolbar floating at the foot of the page, listing suggested searches based on the web-page's content.

Let me explain what it is, before walking you through the steps of Topic Torch removal.

Targeted by the Topic Torch Toolbar

It had to be the website. It couldn't possibly be something on MY computer, could it? Actually, yes.

At first I thought that it was something that Simon (the tech bloke behind Wizzley) had installed onto the site.  When you're writing here every waking hour, you tend to notice him experimenting and testing a lot.

I wrinkled up my nose.  The Topic Torch toolbar looked tacky and it didn't at all fit in with the ethos of Wizzley.  It behaved aggressively.  Turning it off was all well and good, until you clicked onto a new webpage. Then it was back, covering all just above the fold and being generally annoying and THERE.

I resolved to tell him as much, if Simon didn't realize for himself and take it off. He usually does reverse pretty quickly when he discerns things aren't right; and he generally has better taste than the rest of us for deciding what fits the bill. 

I should have sussed from that that it was nothing to do with Wizzley, especially when it remained. But I was lulled into a false conclusion by the fact that it was the only website displaying the Topic Torch toolbar.

It was also the only website for which I have Adblock disabled; and therein lies the clue.

What is Topic Torch?

It's spyware, pure and simple, from the people who brought you Yontoo Layers.

The Topic Torch toolbar exists for one reason only.  It's not the enlightenment promised on their website (whatever that means), nor the super fast search speeds also claimed.

It is to display advertizements on a banner, tailored to your interests, based on your web browsing.  So far so Google. 

They use the same information to feed back to their files. This can be sold on to companies who love the free market research. Ok, also like Google.  But at least we have a choice in whether we are giving data to the Big G. 

All over the internet right now, quite cyber savvy people are wondering where Topic Torch's banner came from.  We're all aware enough to watch out for hidden toolbars in downloads; and I, for one, know that I did not invite Topic Torch in.

No doubt during the next few weeks that tactic will be cracked and become commonplace.  But the forums are only just starting to fill up with startled queries.  The earliest that I found was November 4th 2012.  It's a brand new spyware then.

But not a new spyware company.

Books about Spyware and Computer Security

Learn what spyware is and how to block it. Even the most tech savvy can be caught out, but these basic tips will protect you most of the time.

Topic Torch is Yontoo Layers Reincarnate

I might have been slow on the uptake, but as soon as I'd ascertained that Topic Torch was nothing to do with Wizzley, I acted fast.

It took some finding to track down the add-on application that was responsible for the Topic Torch banner.  That is because it's not listed as such.

I even visited the Topic Torch website looking for answers, but their Terms of Service and Settings pages were blank.  I later realized that this was because they are both loaded with spyware too. My Adblock Plus had wiped them away.

However, if I had been able to read them, I would have read a familiar name - Yontoo.  I should have recognized the modus operandi.

Yontoo Layers has been flagged up as a spyware toolbar for years.   There's great debate in geek circles over how dangerous it actually is. It's wormed past all of my firewalls and checked out as safe in my anti-virus software. It can be useful for a variety of internet activities. 

But its insidious way of getting onto your system rings too many alarm bells; as does the fact that it's definitely loaded with adware. 

It works in precisely the same way as Topic Torch, but people have learned to beware it.  The clever thing is that, as computer users rush to their extensions lists and program files, they stop at T.  Not finding Topic Torch there, they don't tend to scroll on down.

Yontoo will be right at the bottom, unless you're in the habit of collecting applications beginning with Z.  It is this which you will be targeting as you begin the process of uninstalling Topic Torch.

Do You Trust Yontoo Layers on your Computer?

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No, it's not at all fine.
Big J on 03/27/2013

I don't trust any toolbar widgets fluffy glitzy whizlybang gadgets that sneak into my computer without my explicit consent. Search and destroy the Crapware!

Paco on 01/22/2013

My MACs not supposed to get STDs! This has never happened before.

JoHarrington on 11/16/2012

All I wanted was to know how to stop Topic Torch. I haven't tried out any of the other things bundled in the Yontoo package. But neither do I want to. I don't trust anything that sneaks onto my hard-drive and just installs itself. Part of that is the principle of the thing, and the rest because I feel like a failure for missing it getting through!

Ember on 11/15/2012

I shouldn't be expected to be able to answer this question. I'll just hear what you have to say, and nod in agreement, 'What she said, that techie one over there!'

How to Uninstall Yontoo Layers Client (and Minor Leftover Items)

FreeUninstallt has created this YouTube guide to removing Yontoo Layers. You need to do the same to disable Topic Torch. NB No sound, so add your own music!

How to Remove the Topic Torch Toolbar from Firefox

  • Click on the Firefox icon in the top left hand corner
  • Select Add-ons

If you don't have 'tabs on top', then select 'tools' from the menu toolbar, then 'add ons' from there.

  • Select Extensions
  • Disable, then remove Yontoo, using the buttons alongside its listing.

You probably don't need to disable it first, but I'm paranoid about such things.

Image: Yontoo in Firefox Extensions
Image: Yontoo in Firefox Extensions
Image: Yontoo extension disabled in Firefox
Image: Yontoo extension disabled in F...

How to Remove the Topic Torch Toolbar from Google Chrome

  • Click on the Chrome Menu on the right hand side of your top toolbar.

The icon is a wrench if you're American and a spanner if you're British.  It's the same tool, we just all stubbornly call it different things; and who knows what it's called in other countries. (Though no doubt the comments down below will soon inform me.)

If there is no image of a Tool-For-Tightening-And-Loosening-Nuts, then select the three horizontal, parallel lines icon instead.

  • Select Extensions
  • Find Yontoo and click the trash bin icon alongside it.

How to Remove Topic Torch Toolbar from Safari

  • Click on the Safari icon in the top left hand corner
  • Select preferences from the pull-down menu
  • Select the Extensions tab from the pop up interface
  • Find Yontoo on the list and click uninstall
  • Click uninstall again on the confirmation box that drops down.

How to Uninstall Safari Extensions

How to Remove Topic Torch Toolbar from Internet Explorer

  • Click on the Tools icon, in the top right hand corner (shaped like a cog)
  • Select 'Manage Add-Ons'
  • Find the heading 'Yontoo LLC'
  • Highlight each item underneath that heading and press the disable button

While this will block Topic Torch, I can't see how you actually remove it in IE!  If anyone knows, please do comment, so that I can add it in.

Removing Topic Torch from your Computer

Having performed the above, you should have already stopped seeing the Topic Torch banner in your browser. But that doesn't mean that Yontoo has left your system.

As far as I can ascertain, only Firefox, Google and Safari have been targeted by this spyware banner.  If more browsers are added, I'll update the guide accordingly.

By now the Topic Torch Toolbar should have disappeared from the foot of your browser window. But this only means that you've cut the head off the beast.  The body is still in your program files.

Warning:  If you like other Yontoo applications, stop now.  The following instructions will destroy them too. 

How to Remove Yontoo from a Windows PC

  • Click on the Start Menu in the bottom left hand corner (blue circle with a multi-colored, quartered flag in it)
  • Click on Control Panel, in the right hand list of the pop up box
  • Select Programs & Features, unless you're running XP or earlier, in which case it's Add/Remove
  • Find Yontoo on the list and click remove.

How to Remove Yontoo from a Mac

  • Click on the Launchpad icon (looks like a rocket going into outer space)
  • Select Applications
  • Find Yontoo on the list
  • Drag Yontoo into the trash bin.

Unlike Windows, Mac tends not to have bits of files scattered all over the place.  This is why you can kill most programs without worrying about an uninstaller.

How to Remove Yontoo from a PC Using CCleaner

Personally, I tend not to bother with any of the above, because anything that I want to uninstall, I do through CCleaner anyway. 

Which is precisely how I removed Yontoo, and Topic Torch, from my own hard-drive.

Computer housework is often forgotten, until the whole thing grinds to a chugging halt. A free, powerful piece of software helps clean out the gunk.
  • Open up CCleaner
  • Click on the Tools Tab
  • Select Uninstall
  • Find Yontoo on the list and highlight it
  • Click the Run Installer button in the top right hand column.

Tick 'Click this option to completely remove Yontoo'

Image: First Yontoo window
Image: First Yontoo window

Click 'Yes'

Image: Second Yontoo window
Image: Second Yontoo window

And that's it!  Job's a good 'un, Topic Torch and its parent Yontoo are now both gone away.

Now we just need to work out how they got there in the first place...

Buy Anti-Virus Software to Keep your Computer Safe

None of these would have shielded you from Topic Torch (it isn't a virus). They will all protect your system from much, much worse.

More of my Computing Articles on Wizzley

It's so much fun to have a sparkling new computer, but what about all of your documents, music, pictures and software stranded on the old one? Let me help with that.
Frustrated by trying to fix a computer by telephone? Crossloop is a free must-have for family go-to geeks everywhere.
If you are getting pain or a tingling sensation in your wrist, then maybe it's time to change your mouse. I have just the one for you!
It is the standard first question of any geek called to troubleshoot a PC. The fact is that 80% of the time, it fixes everything.

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Updated: on 03/09/2014, JoHarrington
 
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Comments


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JoHarrington on 01/21/2014

Ah! Thank you for that! Hopefully you've got rid of it now.

fiona wildfire on 01/21/2014

Its also named 'albrechto' and it didnt show up in my installed programs bit, i had to go to add/remove programs.
Also, in australia google chrome does not have 3 lines, u just to settings.

JoHarrington on 07/16/2013

Thanks Alex!

Alex on 07/16/2013

In terms of mac- Do a spotlight search in the top for the programme in question. If it shows up, command click to open it in a finder window then delete from there. The browser specific steps should work on either Mac or PC, so follow those as Jo wrote out. :)

JoHarrington on 07/16/2013

Mmm! Curiouser and curiouser. I'm not very proficient with MacBooks, but I have a friend who is. I'll try and lure her into these comments to see if she may suggest something.

Ian on 07/16/2013

I have had no luck removing from my macbook. I don't think I have have launch pad, but I did go into applications but there was no yontoo.

JoHarrington on 03/09/2013

Oh good question! But before I go hunting to see, let's check that it's not just hiding. Would you mind installing CCleaner please? It's free and perfectly safe. I've been using it for years and it's the first program that I recommend to everyone in my circle.

You can read more about it here: http://wizzley.com/ccleaner-a-safe-an...

Once it's installed, check in the 'Tools' tab. Look at all of the programs listed under 'uninstall' and see if Yontoo is there please. If not, then it has changed name and I'll dig until I find what that is. Thanks for the head's up!

Jerry on 03/09/2013

I disabled Yontoo under manage add-ons and it worked. However, I want to get rid of it entirely so I went to my control panel to Add on /remove and Yontoo is not there. Neither is Topic Torch. I have read this works for others who had the same problem on other helpful websites. If it's not named Yontoo, what name are going by now in March of 2013??

JoHarrington on 01/19/2013

Excellent! I'm glad to hear that. Hopefully it's gone forever now. :D

Aubrey on 01/19/2013

Posted too soon, I was able to uninstall it. I hope it's gone for good! Thank you very much!




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