Any Search is a browser hijacker that can take over your web browsers, leading to unwanted changes in homepage and search engine settings. If your Mac is infected with Any Search, you may find your browsers directing you to the Any Search homepage whenever you open Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. In this article, we will provide separate steps for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox to help you remove Any Search browser hijacker without the use of third-party software.
What are Browser Hijackers and How is Any Search Dangerous?
Browser hijacking is a form of cyberattack in which malicious software or code takes control of a user’s web browser without their consent. This hijacking can result in several unwanted changes, such as altering the browser’s homepage, search engine, or default settings. In some cases, it may redirect the user to malicious websites or inundate them with pop-up ads. Browser hijackers are typically used for advertising and profit, but they can also expose users to security risks. Protecting against browser hijacking involves regularly updating software, using reliable security tools, and being cautious while downloading files or installing browser extensions.
Dealing with browser hijackers like Any Search and safeguarding your online security requires a proactive approach. Here are some best cybersecurity practices to follow:
- Use Reputable Security Software:
- Invest in reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. Ensure it is regularly updated to provide protection against the latest threats, including browser hijackers.
- Regular Software Updates:
- Keep your operating system, web browsers, and browser extensions up-to-date. Software updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities.
- Safe Download Practices:
- Only download software and browser extensions from trusted sources. Avoid third-party download sites, as they often bundle legitimate software with browser hijackers or other malware.
- Custom Installation:
- When installing software, choose the custom installation option. This allows you to review and deselect any additional components or browser extensions that might be bundled with the software.
- Extension Vigilance:
- Periodically review the browser extensions you have installed. Remove any unfamiliar or unnecessary extensions. Some browser hijackers disguise themselves as seemingly innocuous extensions.
- Secure Passwords:
- Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. A password manager can help generate and store complex passwords for each of your accounts.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
- Enable 2FA for your online accounts whenever possible. It adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code sent to your mobile device or email in addition to your password.
- Safe Browsing Habits:
- Be cautious when clicking on links, especially in emails and pop-up ads. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking on links from unknown or suspicious sources.
- Back Up Data:
- Regularly back up your essential data to an external drive or cloud storage. This practice can help you recover your data in case of a malware attack.
- Educate Yourself:
- Stay informed about common cybersecurity threats and tactics used by malicious software. Knowledge is your best defense.
- Email Vigilance:
- Be skeptical of unsolicited or unexpected emails, especially those requesting personal information or containing links or attachments. Verify the sender’s legitimacy before taking any action.
- Monitor Your Browser Settings:
- Regularly check your browser’s homepage, default search engine, and other settings. If you notice any unauthorized changes, investigate and reset them if necessary.
- Scan for Malware:
- Periodically run full system scans with your antivirus or anti-malware software to detect and remove any malicious software, including browser hijackers.
- Use Browser Security Features:
- Browsers often have built-in security features. Activate and configure settings such as pop-up blockers and enhanced privacy controls.
Remove ‘Any Search’ from Your Browser
Removing Any Search from Safari
- Check for Unauthorized Profiles:
- Go to the Apple menu and click on “System Settings.”
- Navigate to “Privacy & Security” and select “Profiles.”
- If you find a profile named “AdminPrefs,” click on it and click the ‘-‘ button at the bottom left of the window to remove it.
- Verify and Remove Suspicious Startup Items:
- In System Settings, go to “General” and then “Login Items.”
- Look for any suspicious items and click on them.
- Click the ‘-‘ button at the bottom of the window to remove them.
- Remove Launch Agents and Daemons:
- Open Finder, click on the “Go” menu, and select “Go to Folder.”
- Type /Library/LaunchDaemons and press Enter.
- Examine the list of .plist files for any unfamiliar names.
- If you find any, drag them to the Trash.
- Repeat the process for /Library/LaunchAgents and ~/Library/LaunchAgents.
- Empty the Trash and restart your Mac.
- Reset the Default Page in Safari:
- Open Safari.
- Click on the Safari menu and choose “Settings.”
- Under the “Search” tab, select your preferred search engine.
- In the “General” tab, set the homepage to your desired page.
Removing Any Search from Chrome
- Check for Chrome Control by Any Search:
- Open Chrome and type chrome://policy/ into the address bar, then press Enter.
- Check the Level and Policy value columns.
- If it says “Recommended,” Any Search controls Chrome settings, and you may need to uninstall and reinstall Chrome.
- Manually Remove Any Search from Chrome:
- Type chrome://extensions in the address bar and press Enter.
- Click “Remove” to delete any suspicious extensions.
- Set Your Preferred Start Page:
- Click the three dots in the top-right corner (Settings).
- Under “On startup,” select “Open a specific page or set of pages.”
- Click “Add a new page” and type or paste your desired URL.
- Save the changes and configure your preferred search engine.
Removing Any Search from Firefox
- Check for Firefox Control by Any Search:
- Open Firefox and type about:preferences into the address bar, then press Enter.
- Under the “Home” category, choose either “Firefox Home” or “Custom URL” and enter your preferred URL.
- Scroll down to “Search Shortcuts” and remove Any Search.
- Remove Suspicious Extensions in Firefox:
- Type about:addons in the address bar and press Enter.
- Click the three-dot icon next to any unwanted extensions and select “Remove.”
The Final Steps for Removal
If Any Search continues to redirect you, consider a full reset of your browser settings. Remember to back up your essential data and bookmarks before proceeding with a reset.
Resetting browser settings will help eliminate unwanted changes caused by browser hijackers like Any Search. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reset the settings for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on a Mac:
Resetting Safari Browser Settings
- Open Safari.
- Click on the “Safari” menu in the top-left corner of the screen.
- Select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu.
- Go to the “Privacy” tab.
- Click the “Manage Website Data” button.
- In the pop-up window, click “Remove All.”
- Confirm the action by clicking “Remove Now.”
- Next, go to the “Advanced” tab in the Safari Preferences window.
- Check the box next to “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
- Close the Preferences window.
- In the menu bar, you should now see a “Develop” menu. Click on it.
- Select “Empty Caches.”
- Finally, click on the “Safari” menu and choose “Quit Safari” to close the browser.
When you reopen Safari, your browser settings should be reset to their default state.
Resetting Google Chrome Browser Settings:
- Open Google Chrome.
- Click on the three-dot menu icon in the top-right corner of the browser.
- Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
- Scroll down and click on “Advanced” to expand the settings.
- Scroll further to find the “Reset settings to their original defaults” option.
- Click on “Reset settings.”
- A confirmation dialog will appear. Click “Reset Settings” again.
- Chrome will reset to its default state, and all extensions and themes will be disabled.
Resetting Mozilla Firefox Browser Settings:
- Open Mozilla Firefox.
- Click on the three-line menu icon in the top-right corner of the browser.
- Select “Preferences” (on older versions, it may be “Options”).
- In the left sidebar, click on “Privacy & Security.”
- Scroll down to the “Reset Firefox” section.
- Click on the “Refresh Firefox” button.
- A confirmation dialog will appear. Click “Refresh Firefox” again.
- Firefox will reset to its default state, and your old profile data will be saved to the desktop in a folder called “Old Firefox Data.”
- Click “Finish” to complete the process.
After following these steps, your Safari, Chrome, or Firefox browser should be reset to its default settings, removing any unwanted changes or extensions that may have caused issues.
Browser hijackers like Any Search can be persistent and intrusive, but you can regain control of your browsers by following the steps outlined for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. By carefully inspecting your Mac’s settings and browsers, you can eliminate the Any Search browser hijacker and restore your preferred settings, ensuring a smoother and safer online experience.