Have you recently observed any unusual activity from your web browser? Perhaps your homepage has mysteriously switched to a website you’ve never seen before, or a new search engine has replaced your default. If any of these circumstances sound familiar, you may have a browser hijacker, often known as a browser redirect virus. These seemingly harmless bits of software can devastate your internet experience. In this post, we’ll look at what browser hijackers are, why they exist, and how to get rid of them completely. In addition, we’ll share some more insights and advice to help you protect your browsing experience.
Why do browser hijackers exist?
Browser hijackers, like most forms of malware, exist for one reason: to make money. Those that distribute this hijacking software can use it to earn significant online traffic, often via big search engines such as Google or Bing. They can make quick money by putting ads alongside search results.
Modern web browsers by default enable pop-up and redirect block filters, but some viruses can override these settings. This override can result in pages being flooded with advertisements, ruining your online experience. Custom search sites, which may even include Google branding to appear trustworthy, are among the usual strategies used by browser hijackers. To capitalize on the increased traffic, you can also change your browser’s homepage and new tab pages. Browser shortcuts may alter without your permission in rare instances, especially when installing ostensibly useful software.
Having unknown software on your computer is never a good idea. If you come across something strange, perform a short search (ideally on an unaffected browser) to assess its significance and take proper action, which may include removal.
To reclaim control of your web browsing experience, follow the steps below to effectively remove a browser hijacker from your system.
How to Get Rid of a Browser Hijacker
Scan and remove viruses and malware.
Before anything else, ensure that the browser hijacker hasn’t caused damage to your computer. Conduct a ‘Full scan’ using the Windows Security app or consider using a reputable third-party antivirus application. One highly recommended choice is the free version of Malwarebytes, which can effectively locate and eliminate malware.
Remove Browser Add-ons, Extensions, and Toolbars
Access all of your web browsers, including those not directly affected, and remove any third-party extensions or add-ons that you don’t recognize or trust. Here’s how to do it on some popular browsers:
- Google Chrome: Click the three dots in the top-right corner, then select ‘More tools’ > ‘Extensions.’ Click ‘Remove’ next to any unfamiliar extensions.
- Mozilla Firefox: Click the three bars in the top-right corner, then choose ‘Add-ons and themes.’ Under the ‘Extensions’ tab, remove any questionable extensions.
- Microsoft Edge: Click the three dots in the top-right corner, then select ‘Extensions.’ Choose ‘Manage extensions’ and click ‘Remove’ for unwanted extensions.
Change Your Homepage
If the hijacker has altered your browser’s homepage, manually reset it. Here’s how for a few common browsers:
- Google Chrome: Click the three dots in the top-right corner, then go to ‘Settings.’ Under the ‘On startup’ section, ensure ‘Open a specific page or set of pages’ is selected. Remove any unwanted pages and add your preferred one.
- Mozilla Firefox: Click the three bars in the top-right corner, then go to ‘Settings.’ Under ‘Home,’ select ‘Custom URLs’ and set your preferred homepage.
- Microsoft Edge: Click the three dots in the top-right corner, then choose ‘Settings.’ Under ‘Appearance,’ configure your preferred homepage.
Change Your Default Browser and Remove Unwanted Search Engines:
Browser hijackers can also change your default browser and search engine. Check and modify these settings:
- Google Chrome: Click the three dots in the top-right corner and select ‘Settings.’ Under ‘Search engine,’ click ‘Manage search engines’ and remove unwanted options.
- Mozilla Firefox: Click the three bars in the top-right corner and choose ‘Settings.’ Under ‘Search,’ set your preferred default search engine.
- Microsoft Edge: Click the three dots in the top-right corner, choose ‘Settings,’ and navigate to ‘Privacy, search, and services.’ Under ‘Address bar and search,’ click ‘Manage search engines’ and remove any you don’t want.
- To set your default browser in Windows 11, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Apps’ > ‘Default apps’ and select your browser.
You will effectively remove browser hijackers from your system and recover control of your web browsing experience by following these methods. To avoid future hijacking attempts, be cautious when downloading and installing software. To maintain your online safety, keep your antivirus software up to date and run regular scans.