Perhaps you have already come across this. One day you open your internet browser and instead of a homepage some search engine opens that you’ve never heard of. Then you notice that the search box in the toolbar is also gone, it has been replaced – again – with that of that search engine page, which appeared instead of the start page. Worse yet, you go through all the usual uninstallation procedures on your browser and system, restart your computer and… it’s still there.
This is BitGuard, the generic name of a family of programs that include search toolbars such as MixiDJ, Delta Search, SearchQU, Iminent, and Rubar. It is a complicated piece of malware often bundled with free applications. Its task is to generate income to third parties by taking over your system.
It is a complicated piece of malware often bundled with free applications.
According to SecureList, it works as follows: when users try to download some type of program – a music file, software, or video – they also download the associated drivers and installer from their affiliate program. The installation file is downloaded along with the toolbar – sometimes with the user’s consent, sometimes not, it depends on the program.
Users are now presented with the new search toolbar and home page, and they are redirected to the specified search engine result page. This is where the role of an unwanted toolbar is fulfilled – advertisers pay to place their resources at the top of the search results, which is where users click the most. After clicking on an advertising link, the user is directed to the advertiser’s website and the owner of the search toolbar receives the money.
Google reportedly stepped up efforts to eliminate such programs last year , but the problem is still present.
Users who encounter such a program should try uninstalling it from the system first. On your computer, you can do this by clicking Start, then you have to go to Control Panel, click Uninstall a program, find the desired program in the list and uninstall it. If the problem is not solved, you will have to uninstall it from your browser as well. In Firefox, you can do this either by clicking the main pull-down tab in the upper left corner or (if you have the menu bar displayed) by clicking the Tools tab – then in both cases select Add-ons and remove the unwanted program. The uninstall process is very similar for other browsers.
Unfortunately, in some cases these measures may not be effective. Then you have to use a Google search (ironically!) To find instructions on how to remove a specific toolbar. Beware of sites that tell you to install additional apps purportedly to remove unwanted software (irony again). You may think that your chosen program is the easiest, as it only requires a few clicks. However, keep in mind that in reality many „cleaners and optimizers” are spam or even malicious.
These unwanted add-ons can get along with cracks – users often give them permission to install because they don’t know what they are. Only interested in getting through the download processes quickly, they only realize after some time what damage they have caused to their systems. The most important thing is to remember how important it is to have a reliable antivirus program that can alert you to any potentially harmful software you are about to install. It’s also worth mentioning that many free antivirus also install search toolbars …