How to get rid of Browser Hijackers and Browser Malware Toolbars

7 05 2014

Malware! Adware! Viruses!

You risk getting these when things are installed on your browser!

If your browser looks like this, you probably have malware.

If your browser looks like this, you probably have malware.

In my line of work, I have come across an issue that I see time and time again.  It’s called BO Malware- no not Body Odor, but kinda, when you think about.

Browser Helper Objects (BHO’s) is the actual term for these pesky little critters, and they can wreak havoc on your browser if you are not careful, and lead to virus leaks, identity theft, and even a major computer malfunction!  Not all BHO’s are bad, such as Adobe and Java, to name a couple.  Usually, they look like toolbars that belong on the browser.

Ever noticed as time goes by that your browser starts adding toolbars to itself that were never there before?

That’s because they weren’t and you have not been very careful about what you are clicking on.  DO NOT WORRY- most of the time, you add them inadvertently and have no idea that you are installing them.

They can slow down your online experience, not to mention your operating system if they have installed themselves in your hard drive through malware.  Your PC will be infected, your searches will all be controlled and redirected, your home page will be changed, and basically your computer will slowly be taken over.

So how do you prevent and get rid of them??

Your best bet is preventative methods.  When you install a legitimate tool, application, or any software, make sure to read everything carefully.  You would be surprised at what you are agreeing to if you ACTUALLY read some of those Terms & Conditions we all are so guilty of  just clicking and accepting.

Some of these advertisers and promoters are very sneaky and create an extra very small check box, and hide their products very well, within a legitimate product’s terms, such as a trial, complimentary feature, or “helper” object.  That’s why you have to look around very carefully and make sure nothing is already checked off by default whenever you are installing something or updating an already-installed program or utility.

Also, look out for new buttons, icons, or objects on your browser’s main bar.  If you suddenly have something on your browser like “Coupons.com” or “YouTube Downloader” where there was none before, something probably got installed inadvertently. Look at the examples above to familiarize yourself with what these little critters look like.

GETTING RID OF THEM

Often times there are heavy virus removal procedures that are involved, and you should seek professional service in order to not damage your system.  However, if you’d like to try it yourself, here is a basic procedure you can try.

First, your best bet is to restart the PC in Safe Mode.  You do this by tapping F8 when you first turn it on from a complete shutdown.  As soon as you hit the power-on button, you should already be tapping F8- fast and repeatedly until you get to a black screen with white letters that says Advanced Boot Options.  Here, you would select SAFE MODE using your up and down arrow keys on the keyboard, and press Enter.

winxp-safemode2

You will notice files loading and when this has finished, your desktop will look all messed up and the icons will all be very large- this is Normal for SAFE MODE.  ( At the end of all this, to get out of Safe Mode, just restart your PC but don’t do the “F8” thing.)

In Safe Mode, your core Windows components are loaded, and the system is running with minimal services, which is great because that means that if there is Malware (or viruses), they most likely are not loaded and running, since it’s only running the essential operating system components.  This is Safe Mode, ladies and gentlemen.

Now, the first thing you want to do [and hopefully you already have something installed] is run your anti-virus program.  You should keep in mind to update your AV program before you sign into Safe Mode, to ensure you have the latest updated virus definitions.  Once your virus scan is completed, delete or quarantine whatever it finds (if any) and then run it again, and again, until there are ZERO objects detected.

This will have removed any malware and possible viruses.  Once this is complete, you are ready to uninstall the BHO’s from your PC.  Now, in Safe Mode there are ways of uninstalling programs, but it requires some advanced knowledge and editing the registry, which is NOT recommended for a person who is not skilled at editing the registry.

For the sake of keeping this article at a ‘basic level’, we will skip the Advanced method, and REBOOT THE MACHINE back to Normal Mode.

Once the PC is back in Normal Mode and you are on your desktop, go to the Start menu, and open the Control Panel window.  Find the feature to Add/Remove programs or “Uninstall” a program, and begin to start looking for things that you do not recognize and have certain keywords like Search, Conduit, Coupons, Cleaner, and names of System Cleaners that you do not recall purchasing.  A good rule of thumb is, before you delete something you do not recognize, do not assume it is “bad” and look at the Publisher column in this Uninstall window, and make sure it is not a company you recognize, like Microsoft, Adobe, Quicken, and Sun Systems, to name a few.

IMPORTANT:  Do some research- look up the names of the ones you are suspicious about.  Chances are the first couple of search results on a web search will provide a wealth of answers as to what this product is.   If it’s bad, remove it from your system.

Speaking of “search”, your browser is still going to be hijacked, so a good thing to do in combination, or before you start searching for products you are suspicious about, is resetting your browser.  Each browser has a different way of doing this.

NOTE: resetting your browser can sometimes mean losing your favorites.  There is a way of exporting your favorites to a file and importing them back after a reset,but that will not be covered in this article.  A Google search will find those instructions easily.

Internet Explorer

  1. Close all Internet Explorer and Explorer windows that are currently open.
  2. Start Internet Explorer.  Note If you are running Windows 8.1 or Windows 8, start Internet Explorer from the desktop. Changing your settings will affect both Internet Explorer and Internet Explorer that you start from the desktop.
  3. On the Tools menu, tap or click Internet options. If you don’t see the Tools menu, press Alt.
  4. In the Internet Options window, tap or click the Advanced tab.
  5. Tap or click Reset. If you’re using Windows Internet Explorer 6, click Restore Default.

Google Chrome

  1. Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click Show advanced settings and find the “Reset browser settings” section.
  4. Click Reset browser settings.
  5. In the dialog that appears, click Reset. Note: When the “Help make Google Chrome better by reporting the current settings” checkbox is selected you are anonymously sending Google your Chrome settings. Reporting these settings allows us to analyze trends and work to prevent future unwanted settings changes.

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and then click help Help-29 .
  2. From the Help menu choose Troubleshooting Information.
    If you’re unable to access the Help menu, type about:support in your address bar to bring up the Troubleshooting information page.
  3. Click the Reset Firefox… button in the upper-right corner of the Troubleshooting Information page.
    Reset 29 Win
  4. To continue, click Reset Firefox in the confirmation window that opens.
  5. Firefox will close and be reset. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click Finish and Firefox will open.

SAFARI

To reset Safari:

  1. Choose Safari > Reset Safari.
  2. Deselect any items you don’t want to reset:
  3. Clear history: Clears the list of webpages you’ve viewed.
  4. Reset Top Sites: Clears any changes you’ve made to Top Sites, such as adding or pinning sites. If you also clear your history, your Top Sites page reverts to showing the webpage previews displayed when you first installed Safari 5.
  5. Remove all webpage preview images: Clears any thumbnail images Safari has saved of webpages you’ve viewed.
  6. Empty the cache: Clears the webpages you’ve viewed from the temporary location on your computer where Safari stores them. The cache helps webpages load more quickly, so you may notice it takes some websites longer to open the first time you visit them after emptying the cache.
  7. Clear the Downloads window: Clears the list of files you’ve downloaded from websites. Only the names are removed; the files themselves are still on your disk until you remove them.
  8. Remove all cookies: Removes cookies that websites have stored on your computer.
  9. Remove all website icons: Removes website icons, which are small graphics that help identify sites on the Internet. You see them in the Safari address field and bookmarks list, and other places. These icons are stored on your computer.
  10. Remove saved names and passwords: Removes user names and passwords that Safari automatically fills in at websites that require them (if the AutoFill feature is turned on).
  11. Remove other AutoFill form text: Removes some personal information, such as telephone numbers, that Safari uses to automatically fill in forms on webpages (if the AutoFill feature is turned on). Removing AutoFill information does not remove information from your address book.
  12. Close all Safari windows: If you don’t close all Safari windows, someone could use the Back and Forward buttons to view the webpages you’ve visited.
  13. Reset all location warnings: Clears any information websites have saved about your location.
  14. Click Reset.

Finally, after resetting your browser, your home page (or the default home page) should return, and not the redirecting search bar that you most likely have been using thinking this is the “normal”  search bar or home page.  You can set the home page at this point to what ever you like, usually Google.com is the preferred industry standard.

Check your browser for objects- if there are still some left, jot down the name(s) and perform a web search and look for similarities in programs and names in the Control Panel.  Uninstall the left overs bad ones.  Usually, you will not catch them all in your first sweeps, and will need to do a little research before the system is safe once again.

TO RECAP.

Start your PC in Safe Mode

Run a Virus Scan until clean

Restart your PC in Normal Mode again

Uninstall unwanted programs via the Control Panel

Reset your browser to its default settings

Lather, and repeat if necessary, like shampoo until your system is clean.

 

Good luck- and for help or service, you can always contact us, and we can provide REMOTE support and do all this for you, for a nominal fee.
Thanks for reading this article!

We hope it helps, and remember, this article is intended for beginners or people who are not very tech-savvy, so Techs…..spare us any technical objections- we know its a little more complicated, but we have faith in our readers that they can DO THIS!!

 


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