Horoscope Ext Browser Extension

browser hijacker

While exploring unreliable websites, our researchers came across Horoscope Ext, a browser extension that promises convenient access to horoscopes and astrology-related content. When tested on our machine, Horoscope Ext made changes to browser settings and initiated redirects, leading us to categorize it as a browser hijacker.

Browser hijackers typically modify the homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window settings of browsers. These alterations often result in redirects to promoted websites whenever a user opens a new tab or enters a search query into the URL bar.

In many instances, browser-hijacking tools endorse fake search engines that cannot provide genuine search results, redirecting users to legitimate search engines instead.

During our investigation, we observed that Horoscope Ext's redirects directly landed on the Bing search engine (bing.com) without intermediary steps. It's worth noting that the extension might cause varied redirection paths influenced by factors like user geolocation.

It's important to highlight that software falling under this category often employs mechanisms to ensure persistence, such as limiting access to removal-related settings or undoing user-initiated changes to prevent browser recovery.

Additionally, like many browser hijackers, Horoscope Ext possesses data-tracking capabilities. This includes collecting information such as visited URLs, viewed webpages, search queries, Internet cookies, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, and financial information. The collected data may be monetized through sale to third parties, potentially including cybercriminals.

What Are Rogue Browser Extensions?

Rogue browser extensions refer to malicious or deceptive browser add-ons or plugins that, once installed, exhibit harmful behavior without the user's consent or awareness. These extensions often disguise themselves as legitimate or useful tools but, in reality, engage in activities that may compromise the user's privacy, security, or overall browsing experience. Here are key characteristics and risks associated with rogue browser extensions:

Deceptive Installation:
Rogue extensions may be distributed through deceptive means, such as bundled with freeware or shareware, misleading advertisements, or disguised as useful utilities.

Unauthorized Modifications:
Once installed, rogue extensions often make unauthorized changes to the browser's settings, including the homepage, default search engine, or new tab behavior. This can lead to unwanted redirects or exposure to malicious content.

Unwanted Advertisements:
Many rogue extensions are designed to generate and display intrusive advertisements, pop-ups, or banners. These ads may promote questionable products, services, or even lead to phishing websites.

Data Collection:
Rogue extensions frequently engage in unauthorized data collection, including tracking the user's browsing habits, search queries, visited websites, and sometimes sensitive information. This collected data may be used for various purposes, including targeted advertising or sold to third parties.

Browser Hijacking:
Some rogue extensions act as browser hijackers, taking control of the browser's functionality to redirect users to specific websites, often for the purpose of promoting certain content or generating revenue through advertising.

Security Risks:
Rogue extensions can introduce security vulnerabilities to the user's system. They may expose the user to malware, phishing attacks, or other malicious activities that compromise the overall security of the device.

February 27, 2024

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