The Cryptology Browser Extension
The Cryptology browser extension claims to provide real-time updates of cryptocurrency price charts. We encountered this software during an investigation into questionable websites and found it to be a browser hijacker. Our analysis revealed that The Cryptology alters browser settings to promote the thecryptology.icu fake search engine, while also engaging in the collection of sensitive user data.
The Cryptology modifies default search engines, homepages, and new tab/window URLs in browsers, directing them to the thecryptology.icu website. Consequently, opening new browser tabs/windows or entering search queries in the URL bar leads to redirects to this webpage.
Typically, fake search engines lack the capability to generate search results, redirecting users to legitimate Internet search sites. In the case of thecryptology.icu, it redirects to the Bing search engine (bing.com), although actual redirections may vary based on user geolocation.
Browser-hijacking software may employ techniques to ensure persistence, making it difficult to remove.
The Cryptology possesses data-tracking features, a common trait in browser hijackers. The collected information may encompass visited URLs, viewed webpages, entered search queries, Internet cookies, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, financial data, and more. This harvested data could be shared with or sold to third parties.
What Are Fake Search Engines and How to Avoid Them?
Fake search engines are deceptive websites designed to mimic legitimate search engines but often lack the functionality to generate genuine search results. Instead, their primary purpose is to manipulate users and redirect traffic to specific websites, potentially for malicious purposes. These fake search engines can be part of browser hijacking schemes or other types of online scams.
How to Avoid Fake Search Engines
- Use Reputable Browsers:
Stick to well-known and reputable web browsers. Popular browsers often have built-in security features that help identify and block fake search engines.
- Install Reliable Security Software:
Utilize trustworthy antivirus or anti-malware software that includes web protection features. This can help identify and block access to malicious websites, including fake search engines.
- Be Cautious with Browser Extensions:
Only install browser extensions from trusted sources. Be wary of extensions that claim to enhance your browsing experience but end up changing your search engine or homepage.
- Regularly Update Your Browser:
Keep your browser up to date to benefit from security patches and improvements. This helps protect against vulnerabilities that could be exploited by fake search engines.
- Check Browser Settings Periodically:
Periodically review your browser settings, including the default search engine, homepage, and new tab settings. Ensure that they have not been altered without your knowledge.