Browser Redirect Questions
What Is a Browser Redirect?
In this post, you will learn what a browser redirect is, with all of its variations. A browser redirect, put simply, is when you are browsing online, and a Web page you are on causes your browser to redirect you to another page. The action is usually forced, unwanted and many times connected to malware, viruses and undesired browser behavior.
A browser redirect can be harmful as it can download a virus to your computer, phone, or other device or take over your browser, so you cannot simply recover it. Read on to check out all scenarios and ultimately what steps you can take to prevent and to remove unwanted browser redirects.
What Types of Browser Redirects Are There?
Regular Browser Redirect
Browser redirects are not necessarily bad. Many websites use redirects to solve issues such as trying to have less 404 Not Found pages or to lead the user to a newer version of a page or to advertise a product. It is common practice to do so and nothing to be worried about.
Some websites try to avoid confusion and warn you that you will get redirected in a few seconds with a written message on screen or even tell you to click on a link so you can visit a page so you are redirected indirectly. Other sites redirect you right from the start, when you are visiting them, so by the time they load, they have already completed redirecting you and you have not even noticed.
Redirect Chains and Redirect Loops
Redirect chains are when a redirect can lead to another redirect and so on, causing multiple redirects. An example would be when a website buys a domain name extension such as .org and its pages are located on the .com domain, thus if you visit .org, you will be redirected to the main home page ending in .com. Regarded as completely normal website behaviour you have nothing to worry about if you are on the official website of a big media or a service you are deliberately trying to visit and you have typed in the URL correctly.
Redirect loops is another type of redirect. In the past it was most often caused by a mistake, but today people fall victim to it in the means of a shady tactic or malicious intent. While a mistake could cause a redirect to redirect again to itself, sometimes via more pages, this could lead to an infinite loop of redirects.
Most browsers have a limitation set to prevent this and abide by it and even show an error message when it occurs. Labeled RFC 2068, Section 10.3, the specification of the maximum number of cyclical redirections is five.
However, there could be website owners that try to take advantage of users and try to redirect them for their personal needs and we will describe them in the following paragraphs.
Browser Redirects which Tamper with Search Engines
Browser redirects can be used in number of ways, one of which is to tamper with Search Engines and boosting the positioning of a website in search engine rankings and results. This is a highly unethical practice, which is unfortunately part of the Internet. Mobile users are experiencing such redirects the most in the past few years.
A prime example for it would be URL hijacking – a procedure where instead of a normal redirect script, a website links another one directly, causing the target site to be boosted. That happens in the URL where behind the domain name another target website is listed.
The reason behind misleading redirects is to get search traffic to the landing page of a website, where said website does not have enough ranking power of its own. Combined with proper search terms and a number of URLs will redirect users to a target website.
After a search engine finds such a link, it categorizes both sites as identical and removes one of them from the Index. Usually such redirects are using the 302 code for temporary redirection of a site. Also, that is the main reason for site owners to set their redirects to their main page with code 301 (Moved Permanently), so they are not considered unethical by search engine bots.
In the end, if a website gets caught performing such rank-stealing, shady tactics, it will get a huge penalization from popular search engines, and may never recover its ranking in search results.
Browser Redirects that Boost Visitor Statistics
Redirection is often used as part of phishing attacks that try to trick visitors about which website they are actually visiting. It has become less of a threat nowadays as most modern browsers always show the real URL in the address bar, albeit some users do not look at it.
That could boost the statistics of a web site in a good way, but sometimes also increase the bounce rate of the site drastically, so it is mainly used by starting websites that just want to up the count of the visitors. That is of course unethical and also punished and frowned upon.
In that particular case, however, there are no side effects to users, as they only see a site that looks like the one they wanted to visit or see multiple redirections of different websites and the browser stops the action after a few of these happen in quick succession.
Redirects Used for Malicious Purposes (Phishing, Hijackers, Malware Downloading)
In the previous paragraphs we mentioned how some redirects are used as part of phishing attacks to boost the count of their visitors. That is not always the case, as the purpose of a redirect that lands users to a phishing site could very well be to get that user’s credentials or specific data and even go as far as identity theft.
Redirects can have a much bigger scale and depth to them. They could have been implemented as a permanent thing by changing browser settings and operating system settings and registries without the permission of the user. They could also feature a new starting page for your browser to where all the search terms, queries and results would happen if that is set. Such pages and redirects could also get stuck in your browser due to an add-on or extension.
Such redirects which tamper with so many settings are found frequently in Browser Hijackers. They do as their name suggests, they hijack your browser, along with its search engine, search tab and every other setting related to Search Engine results. Some are more aggressive than others and are a pain to remove even with a single Anti-Virus program.
Other redirects can also take you to sites that will otherwise attempt to attack your browser and in more severe cases your computer system in more than one way. A malicious redirect could take a user to a site that would attempt to trick them into downloading software that looks like an Antivirus program, but it is a virus, Trojan horse or any other malware you think of. Some are even designed to just trigger a script which automatically downloads said virus or malware, which could lead to crippling a computer system or even worse – a whole computer network.
What Can You Do to Avoid a Browser Redirect?
Sometimes, it is inevitable and you simply do not know that a page will redirect you. If the redirect is not fast enough and you see something loading, quickly press the Escape button or your browser’s equivalent to stop the loading of a Web page. In other cases, mostly preventative ones, see the following list with tips on avoiding Browser redirection:
- Type a desired URL in the browser’s address bar correctly
- Bookmark your most visited sites, to avoid mistyping the URLs
- Do not visit websites out of curiosity without proper research
- Do not click on banner advertisements unless they are from trusted sources like Google
- Hoover over links, to check where the first destination of the URL is located
- Type in the name of a website and search for its reputation
- Have a browser add-on like an ad-blocker, an anti-virus or anti-malware protection
In conclusion, it all boils down to knowledge and common sense. You have to be very careful of what you do online, which sites you visit and trust and be prepared for an attack at any given moment as redirects can be dangerous.
- Guide 1: How to Remove from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove
Step 2: Uninstall and related software from Windows
Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- Go to Finder.
- In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
- Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
- If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.
In case you cannot remove via Step 1 above:
In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Remove from Google Chrome.
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove from Safari.
Step 1: Start the Safari app.
Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.
Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the will be removed.
Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.
Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.