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malware produces malicious search results
© Luca Lorenzelli |
Security & privacy

Scary new malware takes over your browser to show you fake search results

Scammers usually launch online attacks to grab your personal information or steal your money. But not all scams are so straightforward. Criminals employ sneaky tactics to drive traffic towards advertisements or fake websites where they get a cut of the profit.

It can be challenging to spot, but a telltale sign is when you start seeing strange search results or your home page has inexplicably changed to something you didn’t choose.

Read on for the latest malware you need to look out for and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

Although browser hijacking malware isn’t anything new, new variants have been causing concern recently. Tracking the ChromeLoader malware since early February, cybersecurity company Red Canary noticed an increase in activity.

If the malware manages to creep onto your computer, it takes over your internet browser by changing settings and redirecting traffic to advertisement websites. In a blog post, Red Canary explains that ChromeLoader injects itself into a device through pirated video games or movies.

Pirated software isn’t only illegal but also comes with many security issues. Even some of the most powerful antivirus apps can’t detect all malware, and they might remain dormant on your machine for a few months.

But what makes ChromeLoader more dangerous than other browser hijackers is that it uses Microsoft’s PowerShell to inject a malicious extension. In theory, hackers can use the technique to steal usernames, passwords or any data stored in your browser.

What you can do about it

If you start seeing strange search results, webpages that automatically redirect you elsewhere, or your default search engine changed, you might have a browser hijacker. Since ChromeLoader is now known to most online security companies, update your antivirus app and do a scan.

Here are some other tips on how to stay safe:

  • Never download files from unofficial platforms. Torrents are illegal in the U.S., whether it’s music, movies, or video games. Furthermore, there is often no way of telling what else has been bundled into the software.
  • Ensure that your computer’s operating system and internet browsers are updated with the latest versions. You can thwart many malware threats and infections by running a simple update.
  • Pay close attention to the URLs in online search results. Check for slight changes in letters, any misspellings or suspicious characters.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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