Remove GiffySocial Browser Hijacker

Remove GiffySocial Browser Hijacker

The article will aid you to remove GiffySocial completely. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions provided at the bottom of this article.

GiffySocial is a browser hijacker redirect developed by the MindSpark. Its website will redirect you to its search engine or another malicious site. While using its services, you can find yourself on pages with lots of adverts and sponsored content that go through this hijacker. The hijacker will change the start page, new tab, and search settings for the browser applications you have on your computer machine.

Threat Summary

NameGiffySocial hijacker
TypeBrowser Hijacker, PUP
Short DescriptionEach browser application on your computer could get affected. The hijacker can redirect you and will display lots of advertisements.
SymptomsBrowser settings which are altered are the homepage, search engine and the new tab.
Distribution MethodFreeware Installations, Bundled Packages
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by GiffySocial hijacker


Malware Removal Tool

User ExperienceJoin Our Forum to Discuss GiffySocial hijacker.

GiffySocial Hijacker – Methods of Distribution

The GiffySocial browser hijacker infection can be acquired through various methods. One of the main ones is the use of SPAM email messages. They are designed to appear as legitimate notifications sent by well-known companies or services. In the body contents links to the hijacker can be sent alongside other web elements. Alternatively the file can directly be attached to the messages.

The criminals can also construct fake web pages which can be duplicates or hacker-created portals that resemble download sites or software presentation sites. Their aim is to coerce the users into thinking that they have accessed a real and saf to use site. To further make the sites belivable the developers can include security certificates, notices and forms that are widely used by companies as well.

A very popular method of spreading such threats is the use of infected payload carriers. There are two popular types that are widely used:

  • Infected Documents — The criminals can embed virus delivery macros in all popular document types: presentations, rich text documents, databases and spreadsheets. Once they are opened by the users a notification prompt will be spawned which will request the execution of these scripts. If this is done the GiffySocial browser hijacker will be installed.
  • Malicious Software Bundles — They are made by taking the legitimate setup files of popular software tools often downloaded by end users: creativity suites, utilities or productivity apps. When they are installed the hijacker will also be deployed to the system.

These files can also be spread through file sharing networks such as BitTorrent. They are used to spread both legitimate and pirate content. Often virus files are masked as counterfeit copies of expensive software or games.

We have detected that the GiffySocial Toolbar hijacker is uploaded to the repositories of the most popular web browsers. They are frequently positioned by adding fake user reviews and developer credentials. Once installed they will execute the built-in code which will lead to the infection. Upon installation the redirect will also request specific permissions. In the case of Google Chrome the prompt asks for privileges for the following:

  • Read and change all your data on the website you visit
  • Replace the page you see when opening a new tab
  • Manage your downloads
  • Manage your apps, extensions, and themes

GiffySocial Hijacker – In-Depth Description

The GiffySocial browser hijacker will start with the initial browser changes to the affected browsers. A primary aim is to change the settings in order to redirect the users to a hacker-controlled page. The usual settings that are changed include the default home page, search engine and new tabs page. After this step is complete every time the users open up their browser they will see the specified page.

The page itself is designed to look like any legitimate search engine and is made up of several components. The top menu bar shows a search engine box with links to photo-related services. The main search engine is placed underneath it and shows a larger search engine box with links to some of the most popular Internet services. Below it there are various interactive elements that are dynamically changed according to the collected users. In the bottom menu bar there are links to the various service documents such as the privacy policy.

The fact that the hijacker page can return search results means that it can lead to sites that contain sponsored data, fake software downloads, intrusive ads or even virus infections. In some cases the site will lead to other instances that are powered by the same network. This is done in order to acquire more data by the tracking cookies. The collected information is saved down in databases which can then be sold for profit to interested parties or used in malicious context.

The reason why users are drawn to this page is that the hijacker will impose tracking cookies which are used to collect all kinds of data. The gathered information can be categorized into two main groups:

  • Private User Data — Data that can expose the identity of the victim users is collected during the execution of this module. Information includes the person’s name, address, phone number, location, interests and any stored account credentials.
  • System Information — The data harvesting module can also be used to create a complete profile of all installed hardware components, user settings and certain operating environment variables.

If configured like a virus the GiffySocial browser hijacker may also set itself as a persistent threat. This means that it will create registry entries, boot menu values and other settings that make it to automatically start once the computer is powered on. In some cases this makes it impossible to enter into the recovery boot menus.

Other related measures include the set up of the browser hijacker in a stealth manner. This means that the infection engine will look out for security software such as anti-virus engines, sandbox environments and virtual machine hosts. If any of them are found they can be disabled or completely removed.

A dangerous instance is the deployment of Trojan horse infections. They set up a local client instance which connects to a hacker-controlled server via a secure link. It allows the malicious operators to spy on the users in real time, as well as hijack user data. Using it the hackers can also overtake control of the target machines at any given time.

In some cases the operators behind the GiffySocial browser hijacker can program it to load malicious code such as cryptocurrency miners. A miner instance is a dangerous script which runs complex mathematical tasks and takes advantage of the available system resources. Whenever a task is reported the operators will receive digital cryptocurrency as an award. Another possibility is the deployment of ransomware viruses. They will encrypt target user data with a strong encryption algorithm and according to a built-in list of file type extensions.

GiffySocial Hijacker – Privacy Policy

The GiffySocial redirect and its associated website is operated by MindSpark which is a well-known creator of similar software. They are known for creating hundreds of services that are linked between themselves. Their privacy policy and terms of use reveals that it pervasively tracks the users identity and creates a database containing a profile of each victim. The use of various web tracking technologies captures additional information such as the following:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Email address
  • Number of your page views
  • What links you clicked
  • Telephone number
  • Your login times

As stated in the Privacy Policy, Mindspark allows third-parties, including their authorized service providers, GiffySocial affiliates, advertising companies, and ad networks, to display advertisements or place ad tags or beacons on or via their Services. Thus, these companies could also obtain information about you and your online behavior. In case you do not want your private space to be invaded in this or any similar way, you should remove the unwanted software.

Remove GiffySocial Browser Hijacker

To remove GiffySocial manually from your computer, follow the step-by-step removal instructions provided below. In case the manual removal does not get rid of the hijacker redirect and its files completely, you should search for and remove any leftovers with an advanced anti-malware tool. Such a program can keep your computer safe in the future.


Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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