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How to get rid of a redirect virus in the Google Chrome browser

Submitted on 08/28/2019

Not only the owners of desktop computers can face the issues with malware but the owners of Android mobile devices are also at risk. An example of software dangerous for smartphones are so-called redirect viruses which in most cases settle in the Google Chrome browser. Luckily, it's quite easy to cope with it and pretty soon you'll learn how to do it. 

The contents:

  1. What kind of threat redirect viruses pose
  2. How the browser virus gets on your phone
  3. The signs of having redirect viruses
  4. How to remove this virus from the Chrome browser

What is a redirect virus and what kind of threat it poses

Redirect virus is a virus which redirects a user which can be a very handy tool in the internet. For example, if the address of a website has been changed to a new one, redirect will lead users to the new address, if they enter the old one. 

Viruses use the feature of redirecting for their own purposes. They also redirect users but to advertising or malicious resources instead of useful ones. Even if you type a familiar address in the address bar, you might not see what you expect, moreover the URL will be substituted and you'll see a fake address in the address bar. In general, it can be not only a link, but also a file or javascript. 

Redirect viruses are more than just annoying ads which you're being redirected to. Often they pretend to be system messages, for example, by prompting you to "update" your browser, i.e. download a malicious code. It's quite easy to be tricked in this way: accidentally press the wrong button and perform the "update". As a result of it, malware will be downloaded on your phone and getting rid of it won't be a simple process.

How redirect virus gets to mobile devices

The most common cause is the installation of unfamiliar software. Even though the new versions of Android are doing their best to prevent malware from getting on devices, this protection can be bypassed. 

At first glance, a newly installed app looks harmless, but in fact it turns out to be a malicious one. Quite often it happens when instead of Google Chrome a fake browser pretending to be it is installed. If you use the official Google Play store the risk is pretty low, but in cases when installers are downloaded from third-party, unverified sources the risk is really high.

The signs of having redirect viruses

You can determine whether there are redirect viruses on your phone or not by the following signs (although there are more than we managed to list):

  • a redirect notification appears too often; the browser home page or default search bar have been changed to something completely unfamiliar to you;
  • difficult or impossible to close pop-up ads appear;
  • new tabs with ads open and it's also quite complicated to close them;
  • alerts warning that the phone got a virus pop up (although in many cases, these alerts are created by the virus itself) or you're prompted to update the browser (you shouldn't believe it either);
  • money start to disappear from your mobile phone account (due to sending SMS to special paid numbers, the fact that the messages have been sent can be missed);
  • the browser redirects you to another website: random URL which you personally haven't entered in the search bar opens.

Many of these signs are "side effects" which are only the consequences of redirect. The main sign of having redirect viruses is that when you enter a web-address your browser opens another one instead.

Which browsers are vulnerable to such viruses

Not only the Chrome browser or a standard phone browser are threatened by these viruses, but so is any other similar app. You can get viruses while using Safari or Firefox. 

How to remove redirect viruses from Chrome on Android

Well then, how do we block these viruses in the Chrome browser? The easiest ways to cope with redirect viruses are the following:

Clearing Chrome cache and/or data 

  1. Go to the app properties (Android settings – Apps – All (or in other versions Menu — Settings — Apps — Manage apps — All) and select the browser). 
  2. Tap the "Stop" button which will lead to Chrome app being closed. 
  3. Now clear the data and cache through the corresponding buttons.

Removing recently installed apps

First of all, you have to enter Safe Mode which allows to run non-system apps only manually. 

  1. Hold the Turn Off button until the corresponding menu appears. 
  2. Then on the screen press and hold the Power Off button. The option prompting to start the device in Safe Mode will appear. Select it and wait for your phone to reboot. 
  3. In Safe Mode go to the Settings – Apps and remove the most "recent" (by date) apps you've downloaded.

A tip: avoid installing apps from any third-party websites (it's better to use Google Play). Don't click on suspicious links. If a file download has started without you knowing about it, immediately enter Flight Mode in order to interrupt the download. Delete the downloaded file and restart your Android. 

Rolling the device to its factory settings (Hard Reset)

A more drastic measure which should be taken only if malicious redirect viruses can't be eliminated in any other way. Its disadvantage is that in addition to viruses every app will also be removed. However, it will help to disable viruses in your browser. Once your phone is rolled back to the factory settings, the Chrome browser will work correctly.

  1. Remember to back up everything you need in advance. 
  2. Go to your phone settings, select "Restore and reset" and tap "Reset settings". 
  3. Then confirm your actions and wait for the operation to complete successfully. 

Using antiviruses and firewalls

There are programs responsible for removing redirect viruses. Simply run an antivirus and use its features for cleaning Google Chrome from viruses and checking the system for malware and spyware at the same time.  

Top best antiviruses:

  1. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus. The free version of a popular antivirus. Scans the memory of a device for malware. In paid versions Kaspersky searches for viruses in Background Mode / in real time.
  2. Dr. Web Light. Another popular antivirus allowing to detect both already known redirect viruses and new ones which haven't been encountered before. 
  3. Malwarebytes & Airpush Detector. Two simple but sufficient apps for detecting adware including the ones based on redirecting. Malwarebytes can't detect "advanced" viruses but it's able to find viruses in the Chrome browser.

There is no guarantee that the first app you install will remove browser viruses. If redirect viruses still bother you, give a try to another software from our list. All antiviruses work a bit differently, this is why the same malware can be destroyed by one antivirus, but ignored by another.

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