Has Your Firefox Search Been Hijacked?

| 7 Comments

Search is a lucrative business on the Web and abusive add-ons and other downloadable apps like to hijack your search tools in Firefox so that they can make money off of you. Not only does this mean your searches might be routed to a less effective search site, but it may mean your searches are being tracked by unscrupulous people or companies.

If you're the victim of search hijacking, there's a one-click fix available from Mozilla.

Simply visit https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/searchreset/ and install the add-on. It will install, clean up your search settings, and uninstall itself all nearly instantaneously. You can walk away knowing that you've dealt a blow to the scammers and strengthened your privacy at the same time.

If you're not sure if you're the victim of search hijacking, go ahead and use the add-on. If your defaults haven't been changed, it won't do anything.

Thanks, Gavin Sharp!

Oh, and while you're at it, head over to the Firefox Plug-in Check to make sure your plug-ins are all up to date. If you're all up to date, take a look at that list and see if there are any plug-ins there you don't remember installing or using and disable those. To disable unwanted plug-ins, simply load up the Add-on Manager (from the Firefox menu on Windows 7 or the Tools menu on other platforms -- or by typing about:addons in the addressbar,) then click on the tab labeled Plugins. Once there, just click Disable on any plug-ins you don't recognize. (You can do the same for Extensions too.)

Think of it as spring cleaning. Your Firefox will feel a lot better after this minor tune-up.

update: be sure to un-check the "install some crapware too" checkbox on the Adobe Flash update site if you are updating your Flash because it was marked as insecure by the Firefox Plug-in Check page. Otherwise you'll probably end up with more search hijacking or other unwanted modifications to Firefox.

7 Comments

Every app now tries shoving toolbars and hijacking search and homepage. This has become a major annoyance by now. That those tend to be installed-by-default worsens it. I routinely see everyday casual unsophisticated users with no less tahn 3 toolbars and a hijacked homepage.

Chrome, heck even IE9's approach with newly installed addons and hijacked search/home could be worth learning one or seventy lessons from.

Ronald, for the last four releases, we prompt users when an add-on is installed by a third party. We're shipping a fix for addressbar search hijacking (let users reset to default) very soon. We're working on it :)

- A

While at it, thoughts on Omnibar in core?
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/omnibar/

I get flash (and other things) from FileHippo.com.
There's no Adobe crapware with the versions that they provide.
http://www.filehippo.com/download_flashplayer_firefox/11802/

Their Update Checker (for all software installed, Windows) is a great tool.
There's a portable version of it.
http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/

About Flash, its ubiquity for new installs and existing ones (clearly due to youtube).

Which reminds me of a baffling point. On install, Firefox features little to no choice for custom installing, and no option at all for pinning Firefox to the taskbar (next to the start menu) as the default browser (Opera/Chrome do).

"no option at all for pinning Firefox to the taskbar (next to the start menu) as the default browser'

I thought that it was done automatically if Firefox is set as the default browser.

Only if the default browser, perhaps. It should be added there wether made default or not, as with the other browsers.

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