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What is the best way to prevent my browser's default search being hijacked? Also, what is the quickest/easiest way to clean up this sort of hijack?

I just had to clean off all the browsers on my computer because somehow they had as default search in the address bar and search bar. I haven't been visiting strange websites or installing random software as this computer is a work computer.

I removed it from my other browsers and left it on IE to see if Malwarebytes would catch something like this but the scan came up clean.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Internet Explorer:

  1. Go to Tools (Alt+X in IE9) → "Manage add-ons"
  2. Select "Search Providers" on the left
  3. Check the "Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider" checkbox
  4. Click Close



Install the BrowserProtect add-on, which can detect and alert about changes to several configuration settings, including the default search engine.


Google Chrome:

Dev versions of Chrome, as well as Chromium, should have a feature called Protector, which you can activate by appending -Protector to the Target field of your Chrome shortcut. After that, Chrome should warn you about any changes to your default search engine.

I'm not sure if this is available in the stable release, though.


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That's exactly what I was looking for! Do you know if other browsers have that option? – Vian Esterhuizen Sep 27 '12 at 15:55
There's an add-on available for Firefox, see my updated answer. I haven't found anything for Opera or Chrome yet, though. – Indrek Sep 27 '12 at 16:10
Thanks a lot. Opera is my daily browser but it's rarely targeted with this stuff, one benefit of using an underdog. The Firefox add-on is perfect though. Thanks for that. Although if you somehow find solutions for all browsers I bet plenty of other people would find it useful too. – Vian Esterhuizen Sep 27 '12 at 16:18
Found a possible solution for Chrome (see updated answer), but nothing for Opera yet. – Indrek Sep 27 '12 at 17:04
I have no idea how to test this -Protector flag ... Know of anything I can try? – Vian Esterhuizen Sep 27 '12 at 17:52

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