browser hijacker (virus) - Free Guide browser hijacker Removal Guide

What is browser hijacker? adds a fake search engine and changes the homepage to monetize user activity can change the main settings of the browser is a browser hijacker that changes the main settings, like the homepage, new tab address, and search engine. Users are forced to use only selected channels for browsing which raises many user privacy and security concerns. Such apps can also read all the browsing history and track user activity.

Normally, browser plugins are meant to provide some kind of benefits that are not available on a default browser. People love add-ons that can block ads or automatically apply coupon codes for the biggest discounts while shopping online. However, downloading plugins from unsafe websites or not doing enough research can introduce problems.

Browser hijackers can lead to dangerous websites that use social engineering to trick people into providing personal information or downloading PUPs (potentially unwanted programs)[1] and malware. The extension can also generate commercial content from rogue advertising networks that lure people into scam sites.

In the past few years, we have seen a rise in hijackers as people download plugins carelessly, sometimes multiple add-ons at once, to test which one is better. Because the settings change seemingly out of nowhere, many think that they have been infected with a virus.

TYPE Browser hijacker; potentially unwanted program
SYMPTOMS The main settings of the browser get changed, like the homepage, new tab address, and search engine
DISTRIBUTION Shady websites, deceptive ads, software bundling
DANGERS The extension may lead to dangerous websites; display misinformation, inaccurate search results; track browsing activities
ELIMINATION Remove the extension by going to your browser settings
FURTHER STEPS Use FortectIntego to fix any remaining damage and optimize the machine

Distribution methods

Usually, people get infected with bogus extensions by browsing through shady websites that engage in illegal activities. They are full of deceptive ads, and sneaky redirects because they are unregulated. People can get redirected to sites that promote browser hijackers and get fooled into downloading them.

Often fraudsters try to make the extensions as attractive as possible by stating that they were created in collaboration with big tech companies like Google. You may also encounter messages like “Recommended by Chrome.” Such statements should not be trusted as they are only used to make the product look legitimate.

It is best to only use official web stores, as they are the safest place you can get add-ons from. Extensions that get listed, go through a lengthy review process, however, you should still do your research. Read the reviews, look at the ratings and how many users they have. It is best to choose extensions that are popular, and have plenty of feedback. browser can lead to unsafe websites that use social engineering methods

Another way your browser could have been hijacked is by a PUP. Such applications usually get installed from freeware distribution sites that use software bundling[2] to generate revenue. The problem is that often they include programs that are unsafe and can start causing unwanted behavior on the machine.

You should be careful about what you let into your digital bubble as that can have detrimental results. One wrong click and you can be in a lot of trouble. It is important to install software that you fully trust as fraudsters take advantage of every possible opportunity to monetize your activity.

Cookies[3] are used to track your browsing behavior – your IP address, geolocation, websites you visit, links you click on, and things you purchase online. This information can later be sold to rogue advertising networks and other third parties. That is why security experts recommend clearing cookies and cache regularly.

Unfortunately, a lot of users forget about this task so it is good to have a tool that can do it automatically. FortectIntego can clear cookies and catch with a click of a button, as well as fix various system errors, corrupted files, registry issues, which is especially helpful after a virus infection.

Remove the unwanted extension

You can remove browser add-ons by going to your settings. Find the list of extensions installed in your browser and remove We show how to do that in the guide below:

Google Chrome

  • Open Google Chrome, click on the Menu (three vertical dots at the top-right corner) and select More tools > Extensions.
  • In the newly opened window, you will see all the installed extensions. Uninstall all the suspicious plugins that might be related to the unwanted program by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chrome

MS Edge:

  1. Select Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and pick Extensions.
  2. From the list, pick the extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom.Remove extensions from Edge

MS Edge (Chromium)

  • Open Edge and click select Settings > Extensions.
  • Delete unwanted extensions by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chromium Edge

Mozilla Firefox

  • Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click on the Menu (three horizontal lines at the top-right of the window).
  • Select Add-ons.
  • In here, select unwanted plugin and click Remove.Remove extensions from Firefox


  • Click Safari > Preferences…
  • In the new window, pick Extensions.
  • Select the unwanted extension and select Uninstall.Remove extensions from Safari

PUP elimination process

Sometimes removing only the extension is not effective and users still continue to experience unwanted symptoms. In that case, you will probably have to scan your machine for PUPs. Simply removing the add-on will not be enough, and the settings will keep changing until you completely eliminate a PUA from your machine.

One of the most common ways that PUAs are spread is through freeware installation sites. The creators of these platforms have learned that they can include additional programs in the installers and earn money that way. This method is known as software bundling and is very effective as most people rush through the installation process and skip all the steps.

The program that is causing settings changes could be disguised as a “handy” tool, so if you are not sure what to do and you do not want to risk deleting the wrong files, we suggest using SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes anti-malware tools that will scan your machine, eliminate it, and prevent such infections in the future by giving you a warning before a PUP can make any changes. If manual removal is what you still prefer, we have instructions for Windows and Mac machines:

Windows 10/8:

  1. Enter Control Panel into Windows search box and hit Enter or click on the search result.
  2. Under Programs, select Uninstall a program.Uninstall from Windows 1
  3. From the list, find the entry of the suspicious program.
  4. Right-click on the application and select Uninstall.
  5. If User Account Control shows up, click Yes.
  6. Wait till uninstallation process is complete and click OK.Uninstall from Windows 2

Windows 7/XP:

  1. Click on Windows Start > Control Panel located on the right pane (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs).
  2. In Control Panel, select Programs > Uninstall a program.Uninstall from Windows 7/XP
  3. Pick the unwanted application by clicking on it once.
  4. At the top, click Uninstall/Change.
  5. In the confirmation prompt, pick Yes.
  6. Click OK once the removal process is finished.


  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for all related entries.
  3. Click on the app and drag it to Trash (or right-click and pick Move to Trash)Uninstall from Mac 1

To fully remove an unwanted app, you need to access Application Support, LaunchAgents, and LaunchDaemons folders and delete relevant files:

  1. Select Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Enter /Library/Application Support and click Go or press Enter.
  3. In the Application Support folder, look for any dubious entries and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the related .plist files.Uninstall from Mac 2

If you want to avoid PUPs in the future, always choose “Custom” or “Advanced” installation methods, read the privacy policy and terms of use to find out what information will be collected and what the application will be allowed to do in your system. The most important part is to check the file list and untick the boxes next to any items that you think are suspicious or unrelated.

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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Compatible with macOS
What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Fortect Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Fortect Intego has a free limited scanner. Fortect Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Fortect, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

How to prevent from getting browser hijacker

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Linas Kiguolis
Linas Kiguolis - Expert in social media

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