Remove malware from Google Chrome

Be instructed on methods to get rid of malware in Chrome, review the common symptoms of this kind of infection, and learn some basic virus prevention tips.

Chrome is designed to be fast, safe and easy. These indisputable benefits as well as the vendor’s reputation have enabled the product to quickly catch up to its main competitors and become one of the world’s most popular web browsers since the initial release back in 2008. Popularity of any software, however, makes ill-disposed individuals put their mind to ways of exploiting it, because the bigger a potential attack surface the more productive it is for illegal profit gain.

Google is generally known for taking security seriously, so the browser is a moving target that cannot be easily compromised. This is why cyber fraudsters are leveraging unethical practices to get their code delivered to targeted computers and installed in Chrome. In other words, most of the viruses tailored to hit it end up there because the users actually authorize these bugs to get in. The trickery is about whether or not people realize it, which they mainly don’t. Different types of social engineering, including phishing, often become a springboard for a compromise. The primary vector of contamination at this time is what’s called “bundling”, which denotes a framework where the user gets owned while installing other applications. Those are open source tools whose installation can only be completed if you opt into the extra that they go with.

Chrome adware wrapped in freeware setup

Chrome adware wrapped in freeware setup

For you to get a better idea of the most widespread types of Chrome malware, let’s look into a few samples: one for the so-called search and homepage hijacker, and the other for the ad-injecting subcategory. The spreading workflow for both is clearly demonstrated by the screenshot above, where a third-party applet promotes the harmful payload in the way that the user might not even notice the hoax.

SalePlus exemplifies the infections that embed redundant advertisements into the layout of visited sites. Again, it is distributed in tandem with affiliated freeware products. Once this adware has infected a computer, it adds a new plugin or object masqueraded as a web service enhancement. The user is not involved in the process of authorizing the program to make changes to the browser’s functioning and get admin-level privileges.

Popup ad triggered by adware

Popup ad triggered by adware

Consequently, the virus inserts ads into every web page, for instance comparison shopping sections, freebies, coupons, in-text links, etc. This is a model based on pay-per-click and pay-per-view advertising. It’s too bad that it gets deployed in contradiction with the user’s interests. The victim’s privacy is at risk too, because personally identifiable web browsing information is collected by the app and can be handed over to third parties.

Another widespread species of Chrome viruses is represented by apps like Binkiland, or WSE_Binkiland, which is generically classified as adware. Its technical background is as follows: it operates as an extension which modifies Chrome’s homepage, default search, new tab and shortcut settings without requesting user approval. These changes are highly persistent, so attempts to reconfigure the browsing preferences manually are infrequently actionable.

Custom settings hijacked in Chrome

Custom settings hijacked in Chrome

Through a technique as intrusive and abominable as that, the adware forces you to use its own landing page, which is a search service with a lot of ads above the fold on its results pages. These sorts of sites are typically safe to visit, but the fact that they are imposed on you by someone else isn’t comforting at all.

Chrome is definitely not a low-hanging fruit to attackers as Google, thankfully, does invest heavily into security. In case you have been tricked into installing something that messes up your browsing, however, be sure to read the recommendations below and fix the problem in several steps.

Techniques to remove malware from Chrome

There are several vectors applicable to eradicate malicious code that ended up in your browser. Since both search hijackers and ad-inserting bugs tend to be embodied as malicious extensions or plugins, the first workaround is to uninstall these apps. While this approach is often efficient, sometimes it won’t work – it all depends on severity of a particular threat. In the worst case scenario, resetting Chrome works flawlessly, but this procedure will erase all personalized browsing data. So try the former technique first, and if it doesn’t help, proceed to the latter (steps to be provided below).

Method 1: Manual removal of malicious components from Chrome

  • Click the Chrome menu icon in the top right-hand part of the Chrome window and go to More tools –> ExtensionsThe path to access extensions list in Chrome
  • Find the malicious extension on the list and click trash bin icon next to it. This will remove the unwanted itemTrash the adverse extension
  • Click the Chrome menu icon again and select SettingsGo to Chrome's settings
  • Proceed to the section called On startup under Settings, select the radio button for Open a specific page or set of pages option and click on Set pages linkClick Set pages
  • On the Startup pages dialog that pops up, find the unwanted entry and click the X button to the rightRemove unwanted startup page
  • Proceed to the Search section under Settings and select your preferred search engine on the listSelect default search engine
  • Restart Chrome and browse around a bit to check if the problem has been fixed. If the symptoms aren’t occurring anymore, you’re good to go. In the event the issue persists, move on to the next troubleshooting vector.

Method 2: Reset Chrome to its original state

  • Click on the Chrome menu icon and select SettingsGo to Settings
  • Locate the Show advanced settings option and click itClick the Show advanced settings button
  • Go ahead and click on the Reset settings buttonClick Reset settings in Chrome
  • Chrome will display a confirmation dialog box listing the types of data that will be lost if you proceed. Read the message carefully and, if you’re sure, click ResetReset confirmation
  • Do some test browsing to see if things are okay now and whether the malware is gone.

Verify whether the virus has been completely removed from Chrome

For certainty’s sake, it’s advised to run a scan with automatic security software in order to make sure no harmful remnants of this adware are left inside Windows Registry and other operating system locations. This method should also be employed in case the manual troubleshooting workflows ended up being inefficient.

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