Take back control of your web browser

Ever opened your web browser to find that it has been taken over by advertising and icons you didn’t ask for? We’ll explain how to clean up and get rid of these unwanted pests.

Many times, I have opened a client’s computer browser to find that the front page is not the usual Google search bar or Bing news feed. Instead, an ASK, Babylon, Conduit, iStartsurf, Snap, Coupon Search tool bar appears, and there are five or six icons sitting on the top browser bar. These bars are considered malware and are a means to promote advertising and direct your search. My first question is “did you install this?”. After a bemused look the client usually replies, “well, no, it just changed like that one day”.

This is an all too common occurrence and can slow down your internet experience and load you with unwanted ad popups and notifications. If your home screen has changed to one you don’t recognise then, chances are, you have malware installed on the browser. But don’t fear, it’s relatively easy to remove.

If you are using Google Chrome, here are a few simple steps to clean it up:

  1. Locate are three vertical dots on the top right-hand corner of the browser. This is where the Google settings are located.
  2. Click on this and a small menu appears, then move your cursor to hover over the “more tools” and you will find another menu appears, with “extensions” inside.
  3. Click to open extensions and it will reveal all the extensions installed on your browser.
  4. If there are some you don’t recognise, click to remove them. This will uninstall any extensions. You can remove all these extensions, without affecting your internet browsing.
  5. Once you have cleared them out, close and reopen your browser to see if it has reverted back to its original Google front search page.
  6. If not, you may need to return to the three dots and choose “settings”, this time to view your search engine and startup page. In this area you can change the settings to remove the unwanted search engine or start-up page. If you are using Microsoft Edge to browse, you similarly will find three horizontal dots on the top right corner which you can also click to reveal a menu. Similar to Google Chrome, you can click on “extensions” to remove unwanted malware, and the “settings” button to reset your search engine and start-up page.

Finally, I would suggest you download Malwarebytes (the free version) and perform a quick scan to remove any residual unwanted nasties as a precaution. This is an initial way to stop them. If this doesn’t resolve the problem then things start to get a little more complicated, as you may have inadvertently downloaded some adware that you need to find and uninstall. Even when you uninstall it, they hide registry hooks, that once you open your internet again, it downloads the same program again without you knowing. It is at this time, I suggest, you get a professional to clean your computer, as there is a number of procedures to be done in a specific order for them to be removed completely without harming your precious data.

Happy surfing.

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