Eliminate Browser Hijackers: How to Remove Chrome Search Redirects

August 18th · 9 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|

Browser Hijacker - What is it and how do I get rid of it?

You open your browser and notice something strange: your usual search engine has been replaced by a new one that you don’t recognize. "Weird, but ok," you think, but you continue browsing. Then, every time you try and open a new tab, you come back to this new search engine. You can’t get to Chrome or the search engine you usually use anymore, and not only that, you're suddenly bombarded with pop-ups. You try changing your browser settings - but that doesn’t seem to have any effect. Bad news: Your browser has been hijacked by malicious browser extensions like getsearchredirecting.com or similar ones.

| Browser hijackers only exist to steal information and spread malware |

Encountering a browser hijacker can be an unsettling experience. One moment you’re browsing as usual, and the next, your default search engine has morphed into something unfamiliar. These hijackers not only meddle with your browsing preferences but can also pose serious privacy threats by redirecting you to malicious websites or stealing your personal information. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to reset and correct - one of which is installing browser protection AKA Guardio. With Guardio by your side, reclaiming control is just a few clicks away. But more on that later. Let’s dive in!

Guardio is a Chrome extension and mobile app that protects you from online scams. It warns you of phishing attacks, monitors suspicious activity, and blocks hackers from stealing your data.
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What is a browser hijacker?

A browser hijacker, also known as a search redirect, is malicious software that changes your browser's settings without your permission. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but it can redirect you to malicious sites, pop-ads and monitor your online activities. Sometimes, it also provides hijackers access to your personal information, like passwords or credit card details.

Common ways browser hijackers get onto your computer

A search engine redirect usually gets into your system through an accidental download, a malicious email attachment, an extension, or after unintentionally visiting a scam site. Often, it's bundled with free software, like an app. “Bundling” is also a common way to get a search redirect. It’s a browser hijacker that disguises itself as a system plugin or update. These files are very good at hide and seek and are usually buried in an update or download.

The thing is that cybercriminals are usually very good at what they do - spotting a malicious link or file is nearly impossible. Once installed, the hijacker can change your browser without your permission. This includes sending you to scam websites, tracking your online activity, and logging personal information like user IDs, passwords, and SSNs. Cybercriminals can also use browser hijackers to steal your identity or install malware, such as ransomware.

Cyber criminal

How browser hijackers work and why

Well, there's one obvious answer: money. Most redirects force you to click on links that increase their advertising revenue. Whenever users click on these ads, they are automatically directed to malicious websites that pay criminals per click.

Other redirects are designed to track every single thing you're doing online. Your IP address, page views, location, search history, and details are monitored and monetized. Once criminals track you, they can get a hold of your online identity and sensitive information. This may be done to impersonate you, steal your money, or sell your information on the dark web. Here’s how redirects work:

  1. A browser redirects your default homepage to the cyber criminal's search page.

  2. The criminal then steers your searches to links he wants you to see instead of real search engine results.

  3. When the user clicks on the search results, the hijacker gets paid.

Symptoms of browser hijacking

The good news is that once browser redirects become active - they're super easy to spot. Here are some things to look out for:

Your search engine is replaced. Have you ever opened a new search engine tab and found yourself redirected to another site? Well, that's one of the most prominent indications that you might be the victim of a search engine redirect. Sometimes you might even be redirected to a seemingly legit site - like Yahoo. Don’t be fooled - you’ve been redirected because someone is getting paid to get you there.

For example, If you usually use Chrome as your go-to engine and suddenly your search tool sends your results through a search engine, you don't recognize - you're almost definitely dealing with a browser hijacker. Search Marquis and Ask are two of the most common scam search engines to watch out for.

Settings can't be changed. Don't be surprised if you can't change your browser settings or if doing so doesn't seem to work. Hijackers sneak into your browser settings and prevent you from changing your preferred search engine or homepage.

You're bombarded with popup ads as soon as you go online. Pop-ups and random pages appearing on multiple browsers are signs of a hijacker. These can be annoying or even aggressive ads and commercials for stuff you don't want. Some of them may even be pornographic or worse, which can be highly inappropriate and distressing.

Pages take longer to load. Is your computer running slower than usual? Or are pages taking longer to load? It’s probably because malicious software is installed on your computer, taking up bandwidth.

Did you know that Guardio blocks search hijackers?

Kick out hijackers with Guardio's Chrome extension. Try it free for 7 days.

What are the risks of browser hijackers?

  • Your home page or search engine will be changed to the one the hijacker wants you to use.

  • You’ll get spammed with unwanted pop-up ads.

  • Your search and page loading time will be sluggish and slow.

  • Multiple toolbars and web browsers will automatically be installed on your computer.

  • Banking information and other personal data can be stolen.

  • Scammers can keep a record of your online activities.

Remove Chrome search redirects

Ok. So, there are a few things you can do. The first is to install a tool that's designed to prevent browser hijacking and fix search redirects. A redirect blocker like Guardio can adjust your browser to your preferred settings, so you won't get those annoying "bounce-offs" or be forced to click on ads or sites you never intended to land on. They also block all scam sites, downloads, or extensions containing harmful codes that may hijack your browser in the future. You should also do a complete reset of your cookies and cache, an extension cleanup, and a browser reset.

Install a dedicated scam protection tool

To make sure you never have your browser hijacked again and stay protected from other malicious activities, you need 24/7 security software. Guardio is a Chrome extension designed to keep you safe against these browser dangers and blocks annoying pop-ups with malicious code. It corrects search engine redirects and eliminates malware in your system. It also scans your device for threats and unwanted programs, plus blocks harmful sites and downloads that may cause your browser to be hijacked.

How Guardio protects you

Guardio's browser protection provides a robust defense against browser hijackers. Here’s how:

  • 24/7 online browser safety and malware removal.

  • Block suspicious sites, ads, and extensions.

  • Real-time scanning to identify and remove browser hijackers.

  • Continuous monitoring to prevent future hijack attempts.

  • User-friendly interface for effortless setup and usage.

  • Protect your online identity and§ inform you of any information leaks.

Guardio offers a free 7-day trial which includes a free system scan

This is what our users have to say

  • I haven't had one problem since I switched over to Guardio. I'm pleased with Guardio, and I hope you always keep whatever it is you're doing to make me one satisfied customer! Theresa Pelletier

  • It is a useful tool in protecting your computer and it has saved me more than once. Laureen Sthilaire

Try Guardio for free

It may have been taken over - Kick out hijackers with Guardio's Chrome extension.

Reset your browser settings

As we mentioned above, sometimes malware changes your browser settings through a browser extension. To make sure you disable extensions that might be causing problems, reset your browser settings.

Important: If the malware was introduced by a browser extension and the extension is still enabled, resetting your browser settings won’t necessarily work because the extension may change your settings again. If that’s the case, uninstall the extension to fully fix the problem.

Clear all browsing history, cookies, and cache

Check for apps or extensions you downloaded before the hijacker appeared. You likely got hijacked after installing that free software a few days ago.

Remove all system files associated with any software you suspect was the host for the hijacker. Despite deleting the program you downloaded, you may still have folders on your device that contain files related to the original download. It's time to get rid of these.

Reset your browser settings to your preferred search engine. By doing this, you'll be able to undo all the changes the hijacker has made to your settings.

Test your browser. open new tabs, click the homepage, and use the search bar. You’re good to go when everything seems to be back to normal.

Avoid being hijacked by following these steps:

Beware of free giveaways. Who doesn't love free stuff? Unfortunately, free apps, extensions, movies, shows, and mods often hide malware or other threats. Be sure the free program you're downloading is legitimate before you download it.

Update your operating system constantly. Don't ignore software updates! Updates protect you from viruses and bugs, including browser hijacks.

Never click on attachments or links in emails from unknown senders. A suspicious email link or attachment may lead to a malicious website.

Monitor your device for early warning signs. If you know what to look for, you can catch the unwanted programs before they embed themselves too deeply in your device. If your browser is slow or unknown files appear in your downloads folder, don't shrug it off. Remove any suspicious programs immediately and run an antimalware scan.

To sum up…

Browser hijackers can be a real nuisance, turning your browsing experience into a frustrating and potentially dangerous one. From redirecting your search results to bombarding you with unwanted ads, malicious software can compromise your privacy and security. If your browser is constantly being redirected to unwanted websites, search engines, or ads, you probably have malware installed on your computer. When you can’t change your home page, remove toolbars, or adjust your search settings, then your browser has definitely been hijacked.

The good news is that you don't have to be a victim. By taking proactive measures, like installing a protection tool like Guardio's Chrome extension, you can defend yourself against browser hijacking and other online threats. Guardio's browser protection corrects search redirects, blocks suspicious sites and ads, and scans your device for malware, providing comprehensive protection for your online activities.

Resetting your browser settings, clearing browsing history, and staying vigilant against suspicious downloads and email attachments are also essential steps in keeping your browser hijack-free. Don't let browser hijackers take control of your online experience - take back control and navigate with peace of mind. Start your free 7-day trial with Guardio today and stay protected from browser hijacking.

Safe Browsing!

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