A browser hijacker is a type of malware that changes your browsing settings and takes control over your browser to redirect you to other websites. Browser hijackers are sometimes secretly bundled with other programs and can be unintentionally downloaded by installing other browser add-ons and browser extensions.

Browser hijackers can be merely annoying (ex: slowing down your browser and device through an increase in annoying ads and pop-ups). But they can also be a catalyst for more serious threats (ex: sending you to unsafe websites which may result in tracking your online activity, compromising your data and privacy, or tricking you into downloading malware).

For example, in more serious cases, a browser hijacker may redirect your search to an unsafe website, with a prompt to accept the site’s terms and conditions before continuing. Clicking “accept” or closing the window (clicking “x”) may secretly install malware if the buttons are actually disguising commands and code that are designed to activate installation of the hijacker.

How to remove a browser hijacker

1. Uninstall unknown/suspicious programs, apps, and add-ons

If you received a “Grayware” suspicious event alert from Okyo Garde, or experienced other potential symptoms of browser hijacker activity (ex: website and search redirects, change in your search engine or browser, increased pop-ups), check your installed apps and programs. Look for any software - app, browser extension, or other program - that was installed around the time the issues started, or that you don’t recognize or recall installing. Uninstall these programs, close out your browsers, and restart your device.

2. Revert to default settings and clear cache and cookies

Since it’s hard to determine which out of all the browser settings the browser hijacker may have changed, consider restoring all browser settings back to the default settings. You can do this via your browser’s settings menu. Here are links to instructions on how to do this in Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge:

  1. Click on “Settings” menu.

  2. Click on “Reset Settings”. …

  3. Click on “Restore settings to their default values”. …

  4. Click “Reset”.

Once reset, you can then adjust specific settings to your preferences. You should also clear the cache and delete all cookies to clean out any residual code for a fresh start.

Or, you can delete and reinstall the browser from scratch, or even switch to a new web browser.

3. Prevent future browser hijacker issues

With the browser hijacker removed, consider these preventative measures to avoid infection in the future:

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