The article will help you to remove Search.startbrowser.io fully. Follow the browser hijacker removal instructions given at the end of the article.
The Search.startbrowser.io redirect is a recently discovered browser plugin that can be used for hijacker purposes. Interaction with it can hijack personal data belonging to the victims. Our in-depth article explores some of the dangers associated with its presence on infected hosts.
|Type||Browser Hijacker, PUP|
|Short Description||The hijacker redirect can alter the homepage, search engine and new tab on every browser application you have installed.|
|Symptoms||The homepage, new tab and search engine of all your browsers will be switched to Search.startbrowser.io. You will be redirected and could see sponsored content.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages|
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss Search.startbrowser.io.|
Search.startbrowser.io – Distribution Methods
The Search.startbrowser.io redirect is being distributed at computer victims using the most popular distribution techniques. The hackers behind the current attack campaign seem to utilize different methods at one in order to maximize the number of infected users.
One of the most effective ways to spread browser hijackers like this one is the set up of entries on the various browser plugin repositories. The criminal often employ fake developer credentials and user reviews along with an elaborate description. They can have many names and forms, not necessarily bearing the same name.
Another technique is the use of email SPAM messages that utilize various forms of social engineering attempts. A common technique is the creation of counterfeit notifications that appear as being sent by well-known Internet services. The criminals hijack the text, images and overall design of the legitimate sites. As such they are among the primary methods for delivering infected payloads. There are two primary types that are widely used to spread threats like this one:
- Documents — The Search.startbrowser.io redirect can be installed via scripts that are integrated into files such as spreadsheets, presentations, databases and text documents. Once they are opened by the users a notification prompt appears that asks them to enable the built-in macros. When this is done the infection begins.
- Application Installers — A similar technique can be used with software of different types. The infections are done by taking the legitimate installers from the official vendor sites and modifying them with the virus code.
In addition the hackers can utilize various dangerous web scripts that include all kinds of inline hyperlinks, redirects, pop-ups, banners and etc.
Search.startbrowser.io – Detailed Description
Once the Search.startbrowser.io redirect has been successfully installed on the victim hosts it will start to commit various web browser changes. This is done to all compatible software found on the client machines, usually the most popular web browsers are affected. The list includes Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge. Browser hijackers commonly start with a modification of the default settings in order to redirect the users to a hacker-controlled page: the default search engine, new tabs page and home page.
The next time the victims open their web browser windows they will be greeted by the hacker-made page which also institutes several tracking technologies: web beacons, cookies and etc. This is connected to the information gathering component of the redirects. There are two main categories of data that is grouped together:
- Personal Data — The malicious engine hijacks data that can directly reveal the user’s identity. Examples of this includes the person’s name, address, telephone number, interests, location and etc. The collected data can then be used for identity theft or financial abuse crimes.
- Campaign Metrics — The hackers can obtain information about the installed hardware components and certain operating system values in order to optimize the infection campaigns.
Following the successful installation of the relevant Search.startbrowser.io redirect code the associated infection engine can affect the Windows Registry. When modifications are made to the operating system entries overall performance may suffer. If the entries to any user-installed software are changed certain functions can stop working, this is also true for services.
Some forms of browser hijackers can install themselves as a persisten threat, this means that the code will start itself when the computer is booted. It may also disable other services and applications thereby rendering them non-working.
One of the most dangerous tactics associated with threats like the Search.startbrowser.io redirect is their ability to start a hacker-controlled server connection. This allows the operators to spy on the users in real time, take over control of their machines and also deploy additional threats to the infected hosts.
Once the users open their web browsers they will see a template-based home page that is modeled to look like legitimate web search engines. When the users open it up for the first time they will be prompted for their location data which will be automatically gathered via the built-in web beacon technologies. In addition various tracking cookies will be instituted that monitor their web activities.
It is made of three primary elements that are displayed on a white background:
- Main Search Engine — It enables the users to enter in search queries which are redirected to another service. We remind our readers that all entered content may return results that may not indicate the best possible sites. Some hijackers are also known to redirect the users to malware, virus-infected or phishing sites. This is the reason why we recommend that users restore their browsers as soon as possible.
- Web Links — Below the search engine there are several web services that are organized in a grid-like manner. They may differ according to each user and may not represent the legitimate site. In some cases security researchers report that they can redirect to a scam site.
- Any personally-identifiable information if the consent is given — full name, email address, phone number, physical address, and access to contacts stored on mobile devices.
- Personal Data received from third parties — This is usually through accessed social network services — Google, Facebook, or Twitter and the like.
- Analytics information — All site interactions are recorded and relayed to the hacker operators.
- Cookies information — Obtained from the installed cookies.
- Log file information — The server logs record all manners of user interactions.
- Clear gifs/web beacons information — They are used to track the online usage patterns of the visitors.
- Device Identifiers — Unique device identifiers (UDID) belonging to each visitor device are logged. They may reveal the hardware components contained within, stored data, operating system configuration strings and other personal information.
- Location data — This paragraph reads that the hacker operators can access GPS coordinates and other information that can reveal the user’s exact location.
- Other Information — All other similar data that can reveal useful information may be hijacked as well.
Remove Search.startbrowser.io Browser Hijacker
To remove Search.startbrowser.io manually from your computer, follow the step-by-step removal instructions given below. In case the manual removal does not get rid of the browser hijacker entirely, you should search for and remove any leftover items with an advanced anti-malware tool. Such software helps keep your computer secure in the future. We remind our readers that certain hijackers (most likely this one as well) are configured to harvest the information to a database shared with other similar threats.
What Is Search.startbrowser.io?
The Search.startbrowser.io threat is adware or browser redirect virus.
It may slow your computer down significantly and display advertisements. The main idea is for your information to likely get stolen or more ads to appear on your device.
The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your computer to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your OS.
What Are the Symptoms of Search.startbrowser.io?
There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also unwanted apps in general are active:
Symptom #1: Your computer may become slow and have poor performance in general.
Symptom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.
Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.
Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.
Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Task Manager.
If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts recommend that you check your computer for viruses.
What Types of Unwanted Programs Are There?
According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently affect your Mac can be the following types:
- Rogue Antivirus programs.
- Browser hijackers.
- Fake optimizers.
What to Do If I Have a "virus" like Search.startbrowser.io?
With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.
Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your email passwords.
Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.
Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activities with your card.
Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.
Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.
Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.
Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.
Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.
If you follow these recommendations, your network and all devices will become significantly more secure against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.
How Does Search.startbrowser.io Work?
Once installed, Search.startbrowser.io can collect data about your web browsing habits, such as the websites you visit and the search terms you use. This data is then used to target you with ads or to sell your information to third parties.
Search.startbrowser.io can also download other malicious software onto your computer, such as viruses and spyware, which can be used to steal your personal information and show risky ads, that may redirect to virus sites or scams.
Is Search.startbrowser.io Malware?
The truth is that PUPs (adware, browser hijackers) are not viruses, but may be just as dangerous since they may show you and redirect you to malware websites and scam pages.
Many security experts classify potentially unwanted programs as malware. This is because of the unwanted effects that PUPs can cause, such as displaying intrusive ads and collecting user data without the user’s knowledge or consent.
About the Search.startbrowser.io Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Search.startbrowser.io how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific, adware-related problem, and restore your browser and computer system.
How did we conduct the research on Search.startbrowser.io?
Please note that our research is based on independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware, adware, and browser hijacker definitions.
Furthermore, the research behind the Search.startbrowser.io threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand this online threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.