In the internet age, malware is all around, and you must be extra cautious to avoid download and installation of the same. Unfortunately, you are not always aware of your actions on the internet, and may inadvertently end up installing malware or adware which can proceed to “hijack” your system. If for example, one day, you fire up your Google Chrome browser and see a webpage you’ve never come across before or a bunch of toolbars around your address bar, it probably means you’ve been hijacked. This is definitely undesirable, and potentially dangerous, as the threats posed can range from eating up your bandwidth and slowing your system down by opening up tons of spam web pages as pop-ups, to monitoring your data and stealing your passwords and private information. They are, however, quite simple to get rid of.
How Do These Services Land Up on Your System?
Most adware and malware trick their way onto your system, by being included with installation files of other essential programs. You will be presented with a checkbox to opt-out of installing the toolbar, but it is usually so small and strategically placed, that you will miss it. Even reputed programs like Java have these bundled add-ons, like the Ask toolbar, so there really is no way out. You will need to keep your eyes peeled for any checkboxes or radio buttons during installation which you would need to select to opt out of the extra toolbar/service installation.
What If It’s Already Installed?
If your browser has already been compromised by a Google chrome hijack, you will need to take corrective measures sooner rather than later. Here’s how:
Extensions: A lot of these services hide as extensions in Chrome, which are essentially background processes which run simultaneously with your browser. Luckily, you will find all your installed extensions in one place, and can disable anything which looks suspicious from there.
On the top-right of the screen, click on the Chrome Menu Bar, an icon with three parallel horizontal lines. From there, expand the “Tools” menu, and select “Extensions”. Now, you have a list of all extensions running on your browser. Look out for those with a puzzle piece icon or a message saying “installed by a third party”. Disable or uninstall at will. Some of these extensions may be named funny, so you should check help forums and sites like shouldiremoveit.com to see if it is safe.
Default Search Engines: Despite the extension being removed, and most of your browsing experience being returned to normal, some traces or abnormalities still may stay on, like a random homepage or a changed search engine when you type terms into the address bar or “Omni box”. These search engines are slow, useless and laden with ads.
To check for the homepage, head over to general settings and scroll down to “on startup”, to select “open specific page or set of pages” and then set the home page. Under “appearance”, see the URL linked to the home button and change if needed. For the search, scroll to “Search” and select the service you want, like Google, Yahoo or Bing from the drop-down or pop-up menu. If you want to remove the other service completely, click “manage search providers” and click the small x which appears beside the name of the provider.
Now that the service has been removed from your system, download a cleaner like CCleaner and a scanner like AdwCleaner and/or MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and run both as required to get your entire system squeaky clean. You’ll find that your computer in general and the browser in particular, work a lot faster and more efficiently once these are sorted out.
Author: Steve Costa is a blogger and coder living in LA. He takes an active interest in software and technology and loves writing and photography too. His recent post is about Google chrome hijack services and how to deal with them.