Best Wallpapers Rogue Browser Extension
During our investigation of suspicious webpages, our team came across the Best Wallpapers browser extension. It is marketed as a tool that enhances the browsing experience by providing attractive wallpapers.
However, after installing this extension on our test machine, we discovered that it functions as a browser hijacker. Best Wallpapers alters browser settings to promote the illegitimate search engine search.wallpaperhomepage.com through redirects.
Once installed, Best Wallpapers sets search.wallpaperhomepage.com as the default search engine, homepage, and new tab/window URLs in the affected browsers. As a result, any search queries entered into the URL bar or new tabs/windows opened would lead to redirects to the search.wallpaperhomepage.com website.
Fake search engines typically fail to deliver reliable search results, often redirecting users to legitimate search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. In rare cases where fraudulent search engines do provide search results, the information is often inaccurate, filled with irrelevant, sponsored, deceptive, and potentially malicious content.
It is important to note that browser hijacking software can employ techniques to prevent users from accessing removal-related settings or undoing changes made by the hijacker. This persistence mechanism complicates the removal process for users.
Furthermore, Best Wallpapers engages in spying activities, monitoring users' browsing habits. The collected data may include visited URLs, viewed webpages, search queries, internet cookies, login credentials (usernames/passwords), personally identifiable information, financial details, and more. This harvested data can be sold to third parties or exploited for profit in various ways.
How Can Browser Hijackers Swap Your Search Engine?
Browser hijackers can swap your search engine by making unauthorized changes to your browser settings. Here's how they typically accomplish this:
Installation through bundled software: Browser hijackers often come bundled with free software or downloads from suspicious websites. When you install such software without carefully reviewing the installation process, the hijacker may be installed alongside it without your knowledge or consent.
Exploiting vulnerabilities: Browser hijackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your browser or operating system to gain unauthorized access and modify settings. This can happen if your software is not up to date or if you visit compromised websites that exploit security flaws.
Malicious browser extensions: Some browser hijackers are disguised as seemingly legitimate browser extensions or add-ons. When you install these extensions, they gain control over your browser settings, including the search engine.
Social engineering techniques: Browser hijackers may employ social engineering techniques to trick users into accepting changes to their search engine. This can include displaying misleading pop-ups or notifications that appear to be legitimate system messages, urging users to accept the changes.
Once a browser hijacker gains control, it modifies the browser settings to set a specific search engine as the default. This includes changing the default search engine, homepage, and new tab settings. When you perform a search or open a new tab, the hijacker redirects you to the designated search engine or a customized search page, often filled with advertisements or sponsored content.