Browsing-shield.xyz Scrambles Browser Settings
During our investigation of browser-hijacking software, we recently came across browsing-shield.xyz, a fake search engine that redirects users to legitimate search engines. Typically, these types of websites are promoted through redirects by browser hijackers and can collect sensitive information, making them a potential threat to user privacy.
Browser hijackers can promote fake search engines by setting them as default search engines, homepages, and new tab/window URLs. As a result, any web searches conducted through the URL bar or new browser tabs/windows will redirect to the fake search engine, in this case, browsing-shield.xyz.
It is important to note that browser-hijacking software can also limit access to removal-related settings, making the removal process more challenging. While browsing-shield.xyz currently redirects to Bing, it is possible for the redirect to land elsewhere depending on user geolocation and other factors.
In addition to not providing legitimate search results, fake search engines and browser hijackers typically collect user data, including search queries, visited URLs, viewed pages, IP addresses, internet cookies, personally identifiable details, usernames and passwords, finance-related data, and more. This information can then be sold or shared with third parties, including cybercriminals.
Why Are Fake Search Engines a Potential Privacy and Security Threat?
Fake search engines can pose a significant privacy and security threat to users because they often use deceptive tactics to collect personal information from unsuspecting users. Here are some reasons why:
Data Collection: Fake search engines often collect user data, such as browsing history, search queries, and other sensitive information without the user's knowledge or consent. This data can then be used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft or targeted advertising.
Malware: Fake search engines can also serve as a delivery mechanism for malware, including viruses, Trojans, and other types of malicious software. Users who unwittingly download and install this software can suffer serious consequences, such as data loss, financial theft, or other types of cybercrime.
Phishing: Fake search engines can also be used to lure users into providing personal information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data. This tactic, known as phishing, can be used to steal user identities or to gain unauthorized access to online accounts.
Browser Hijacking: Fake search engines can also hijack a user's web browser, redirecting them to other websites or displaying unwanted pop-up ads. This can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst, as some of these websites may contain malware or other types of harmful content.
Malvertising: Fake search engines can also serve as a platform for malvertising, which is the use of online advertising to spread malware. Malvertisements can appear on legitimate websites or on fake search engine results pages, leading users to click on them and unknowingly download malware.
In summary, fake search engines are a potential privacy and security threat because they can collect personal information, deliver malware, engage in phishing attacks, hijack web browsers, and spread malvertising. Users should be vigilant when using search engines and only use reputable sources.