How to remove a browser hijacker

by Gabriel E. Hall - - Updated | Type: Browser hijacker

Browser hijackers – a type of potentially unwanted software that can take over browser settings and show ads

Browser hijackers cause annoying redirectionsBrowser hijackers cause annoying redirections

A browser hijacker is a potentially unwanted program (PUP), typically a web browser add-on or plugin, which modifies web browser settings. These programs often change the start page, default search engine, and new tab page.

Once these modifications are made, the hijacker can redirect users to predetermined websites to boost their traffic and popularity. The developers of browser hijackers earn money by promoting these sites. Unfortunately, not all of these websites are legitimate or safe.

Most browser hijackers collect information about users' browsing habits, such as search terms, frequently visited sites, uploaded files, and entered information. This data is usually non-personally identifiable (Non-PII). However, some fraudulent versions can collect personally identifiable information (PII) and share it with unrelated parties. 

All programs classified as hijackers are created for commercial purposes. To protect your privacy and enhance your PC’s security, it is recommended to remove any browser hijacker from your system.

Effect on the system and computer's performance

Once the browser hijacker enters its target PC system, it typically causes these activities:

  • Modifications on each of the web browsers. When infected with the browser hijacker, you can expect to discover an unknown home page, the default search engine, and a new tab page. Besides, browser hijackers can also add or remove entries in your bookmark list and fill it with unknown or even unwanted bookmarks. It initiates these system changes without users’ approval.
  • Redirects to unknown domains. Browser hijackers are mostly used for redirecting people to predetermined websites and promoting them in this way. This effect is achieved by showing altered search results and sometimes even blocking reputable websites. Beware that there is no guarantee that each of such websites is harmless, so redirects can seriously decrease your computer’s security.
  • Collection of personally non-identifiable information. Similarly to adware-type programs, browser hijackers can try to record information, which is related to people’s activity on the web. According to the developers of such programs, they mostly collect data about people’s activity on the web, like visited websites, information that is added there, the computer’s IP address, its location, browser type, etc. However, fraudulent people may use such software to collect login data, contact information, and other confidential details.
  • Preventing the removal from the system. Typically, browser hijackers provide no uninstall option to prevent their removal. They can also rely on browser helper objects that may cause their reappearance on your browser after rebooting the affected PC system.
  • Causing problems related to the system's stability and performance. Most browser hijackers slow down the web browser and computer’s performance because some of them are poorly developed. When infected with such a version of browser hijacker, you can also notice instability issues, errors, and overall performance problems on your computer.

Browser hijackers illustrated

Browser hijacker distribution methods

Four major ways have been exploited in the distribution of browser hijackers:

  • Freeware, shareware, or ad-supported programs.
    Beware that there are lots of different download managers, video streaming programs, video recording programs, and similar free programs that have been bundled with suspicious browser add-ons or toolbars. Even reliable products can be set to trick people into changing their default browser settings.
  • Misleading official websites.
    You can be convinced to download a misleading program, which is considered a browser hijacker, manually. Please, double-check search engines, toolbars, browser add-ons, and extensions before installing them on your computer. You can always google their name and see what other people think about them.
  • Adware-type programs.
    These potentially unwanted programs have also been used for spreading browser hijackers as optional components. First of all, we do not recommend downloading adware to the system. Also, if you think that intrusive ads are not a bad thing, you should monitor the installation of such software because you can easily install the browser hijacker on your PC.
  • Fake pop-up ads.
    Some part of browser hijackers have been spreading around with the help of fake ads that report about missing updates. If a pop-up notification is claiming that your Java, Flash Player, or FLV Player is out of date, you should ignore it because it might be that it is used just for distributing the unsafe program. Once the victim clicks such a pop-up ad, a harmful script installs a browser hijacker or similar PUP.

Browser hijackers corrupts settings

The most typical browser hijackers Thousands of people have been affected by this malicious browser hijacker. It has been actively spread in a bundle with both, legitimate and malicious programs, so there is no surprise that there are so many users who have discovered it on their computers without approving its installation. The latest versions of the Delta Homes virus can be removed only with the help of updated anti-spyware.

mysearch: Another clear example of a browser hijacker. No matter how attractive it looks, ads that are displayed through it can be dangerous. Mysearch can be removed either manually or automatically. However, 2spyware researchers recommend using the second removal option. Otherwise, you cannot be sure that all additional components, including browser helper objects, are removed from your computer.

Chromium virus: You should be careful with a wide group of browser hijackers created using Chromium code. Any Chromium hijackers that are set to hijack web browsers without users' approval can track your search sessions and then redirect you to sponsored places. Additionally, they can be set to track you behind your back and collect information that is considered non-personal. You can never guess what kind of data is collected with the help of this program and what parties are capable of using it for their needs.

What to do if you think that your computer is infected

You can remove browser hijackers with the help of automatic removal and manual removal methods. Here is more about both of them:

Automatic removal: The easiest way to prevent infiltration of a browser hijacker is to install a reputable anti-spyware. The same can be said about the removal of such potentially unwanted software. You should think about the manual removal of browser hijackers only if you are a tech-savvy person and an experienced PC user. Such programs are typically spread in a bundle with different components that can hardly be found in typical locations, like Task Manager.

Manual removal: The 2spyware team is always trying to test each of the examples of browser hijackers. However, on rare occasions, even the most accurate removal steps fail to help. That is because their developers periodically update browser hijackers and similar PUPs. If you feel that you are advanced enough to find each component of the browser hijacker, you are more than welcome to use manual removal guides that are provided in every browser hijacker’s description.

How to remove browser hijacker from Chrome?

Chrome browser hijacked

Google Chrome hits the top among the most popular web browsers on the market. In 2017, it exceeded 1 billion on the mobile market and currently has 57,36% of web browser's market share. Thus, it's no surprise that developers of browser hijackers keep developing extensions targeting Chrome. While some of the hijackers are not aggressive, usually it's sufficient to merely set Google as a default start page and search engine. No additional procedures to get rid of them are needed.

However, most of the hijacks compromise web browser's settings in a more profound sense, i.e., multiple extensions are dropped, cookies installed, shortcuts redirecting to suspicious websites injected, and similar. In this case, it's necessary to reset Google Chrome's settings. In some rare cases, browser hijackers appear to be too aggressive to be rooted out without a professional malware removal tool. Therefore, if changing Chrome's settings manually and performing a full reset does not work, you should run a scan with a professional anti-virus and then repeat the procedure with restore settings. 

How to remove browser hijacker from Firefox?

Browser hijacker PUP on Firefox

Firefox has always been a step back from Google. However, it's one of the most popular web browsers in the world and takes 5.45% of the market share. Despite the fact that Firefox's team has been and still is working hard to improve its security, the browser still isn't immune to the browser's hijack. 

There are many Firefox redirect viruses that once installed replace the start page, search engine, a new tab page, and other settings and force its users to visit unwanted websites. However, there are a handful of changes that a browser hijacker can initiate on the system, but ordinary Internet users can hardly notice, including DNS settings, search results, tracking cookies, extensions, and similar. 

Firefox does have a built-in phishing and malware protection feature, but if it failed to block browser hijackers, it would not help in removing it as well. Usually, malware removal from Firefox encompasses two phases. The first phase – malware elimination from the system. Often, it requires invoking a professional anti-virus program. The second phase – the removal of malicious Firefox extensions. The latter can be initiated by restoring the default Firefox settings.

How to remove browser hijacker from Microsoft Edge?

Browser hijacker on Microsoft Edge

Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge is a significant update from the original Edge browser, launched in January 2020. This version is built on the Chromium engine, which also powers Google Chrome, bringing improved performance, compatibility, and security features. Despite these advancements, the browser is not immune to browser hijackers.

Browser hijackers are unwanted software extensions or plugins that modify browser settings without user consent. These hijackers typically infiltrate systems through bundled software downloads. Users may find their start page, search provider, and other settings altered, redirecting them to unwanted or malicious sites.

The Chromium-based Edge, despite its robust security measures, including SmartScreen and advanced threat protection, can still be compromised by these hijackers. If your Edge browser settings have been hijacked, it is essential to use reliable security software to remove the malware. However, simply removing the malware will not revert your browser settings to their defaults. You must manually reset Microsoft Edge's settings.

 If you need help, you can follow the Edge reset instructions.

How to remove browser hijacker from Safari?

Safari browser infected with a browser hijacker

Safari has long been considered one of the most secure web browsers. However, the landscape has changed significantly since 2015 when macOS devices became prime targets for advertisers, scammers, and other malicious entities seeking profit.

As of now, Safari remains a widely used web browser, especially among macOS users, and is the second most popular browser after Google Chrome. Despite its robust security features, Safari is not immune to various types of malware, including those that alter its start page and search engine settings to redirect users to sponsored or malicious websites.

The 2spyware team has created a comprehensive tutorial to help users reset Safari settings and remove any unwanted components. Before addressing the unwanted components within the browser, it is highly recommended to scan your system with reliable antivirus software to remove all potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that may have introduced the hijacker to your device.

Latest browser hijackers added to the database

Information updated: 2024-05-30

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