Applies to: Sophos Home Premium and Free (Mac/Windows)
What is a browser hijacker/redirector
Browser hijackers are usually installed by Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs) which can sometimes be found inside legitimate applications/websites. They typically change the default homepage and search engine of your web browsers, making it difficult to change them back. They may also trigger unwanted pop-ups and advertisements on your system.
Sophos Home will block applications categorized as PUA by Sophos Labs, as well as malicious websites. However, Sophos Home cannot revert changes that have been made to the system by said PUAs if they were allowed to install.
if you believe that an application was not detected and needs to be re-categorized, please submit a sample to Sophos Labs so that they can review it: Sophos Home - Submit a sample
What to do
Uninstall strange/unknown programs from the computer
Reset affected web browsers
Note for macOS: The steps to reset browser and homepage may need to be performed in Safe Mode or using the Terminal.
Ensure Google Chrome is closed. Open the Terminal and enter these commands:
defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageIsNewTabPage -bool false
defaults write com.google.Chrome NewTabPageLocation -string "https://www.google.com/"
defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageLocation -string "https://www.google.com/"
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderSearchURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderNewTabURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderName
Restart the Mac and retest.
- Refresh Firefox - reset add-ons and settings
- Revoke websites push permissions*This is needed when a URL is sending you popups, you can find them here and revoke permissions to stop them from popping messages.
- Reset Firefox preferences to troubleshoot and fix problems
- What to do if Microsoft Edge isn't working (See section "Clear all browsing data")
- Manage website notifications in Microsoft Edge *This is needed when a URL is sending you popups, you can find them here and revoke permissions to stop them from popping messages.
Review accounts linked to the browser (such as Google accounts) that may be syncing unwanted changes, such as reinstalling an offending app.
Remove startup applications
- Unwanted startup applications can be found under:
- Once located, remove the unwanted apps to stop them from making changes to your mac
Windows 8, 10, and 11
Windows 8, 10, and 11:
- Open Task Manager
- Click to the Startup tab
- Disable any unwanted applications from starting up
- Press Windows+R
- Type "msconfig" and hit enter
- Click to the Startup tab
After having removed all the related files and applications, and having reset the web-browsers, we recommend to run a FULL system scan with Sophos Home to ensure no threats are found.
Additional Steps - macOS Only
Please see Apple recommended steps to handle hijackers.
Some hijackers may install unwanted Device Profiles:
- On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Profiles.
- If you haven’t installed any configuration profiles, Profiles preferences isn’t available.
- Select a profile in the Profiles list, then click the Remove button -.
An online search for the hijacker name will help you find additional steps for each one.
There is a third party tool called Knock-Knock that may help finding traces of the above mentioned. Here's the support video regarding how to download and use it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hZPfuY4PaE&feature=youtu.be