How to remove the Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker

Also Known As: search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker removal instructions

What is Access Gov Docs Tab?

Access Gov Docs Tab is a browser hijacker advertised as a tool for quick access to various governmental documents (e.g. IRS forms). It operates by altering browser settings to promote search.haccessgovdocs.com, a fake search engine. Additionally, it monitors users' browsing activity and gathers sensitive information derived from it. Due to the dubious methods used to proliferate Access Gov Docs Tab, it is also classified as a Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA). Note that Access Gov Docs Tab is often distributed together with Encrypted Search, another PUA.

search.haccessgovdocs.com browser hijacker

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and other popular browsers are common targets of browser hijackers. Following successful installation, they assign the addresses of their fake search engines as the homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs. Access Gov Docs Tab promotes search.haccessgovdocs.com in this manner. To elaborate on how this affects browsing, each new tab/window opened and each search query typed into the URL bar redirects to search.haccessgovdocs.com. Most fake search engines are unable to generate unique results, and so they redirect to (or cause redirection chains leading to) legitimate sites (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others). The search engine associated with Access Gov Docs Tab (search.haccessgovdocs.com) is no exception - it redirects to search.yahoo.com. Furthermore, these modifications are not easy to undo, as any changes users attempt to make to their browsers are automatically reset (if access to the settings is even allowed). Therefore, it is necessary to eliminate the browser hijacker to recover the affected browser. Access Gov Docs Tab has data tracking capabilities. It can monitor users' browsing activity (URLs visited, web pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and gather personal information (IP addresses, geolocations, personally identifiable details and other vulnerable data). This information is often shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) seeking to misuse it for profit. The presence of data tracking software on systems can lead to serious privacy issues, financial loss and even identify theft. To ensure device and user safety, you are strongly advised to remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Access Gov Docs Tab
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab.
Detection Names (search.haccessgovdocs.com)
Fortinet (Malware), CLEAN MX (Malicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Browser Extension(s) Access Gov Docs Tab
Supposed Functionality Easy access to various governmental documents and forms.
Promoted URL search.haccessgovdocs.com
Serving IP Address (search.haccessgovdocs.com) 54.227.171.66
Affected Browser Settings Homepage, new tab URL, default search engine
Symptoms Manipulated internet browser settings (homepage, default internet search engine, new tab settings). Users are forced to visit the hijacker's website and search the internet using their search engines.
Additional Information Access Gov Docs Tab is distributed with another browser hijacker called Encrypted Search.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers.
Damage Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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TinyChillSearchYAVista Search and MyDocsToPDF are some examples of other browser hijackers. They typically seem legitimate and useful - users are tempted into downloading/installing them with offers of various functions, however, these features are rarely functional and, in most cases, are nonoperational. In fact, this applies to all PUAs. The only purpose of all unwanted apps is to generate revenue for the developers at users' expense. Therefore, these applications are useless and can also cause various issues. PUAs modify browsers and promote fake search engines, force-open untrusted and malicious sites, deliver intrusive ad campaigns and track private data.

How did Access Gov Docs Tab install on my computer?

Some PUAs (including Access Gov Docs Tab) have "official" promotional web pages from which they can be downloaded. PUAs also proliferate via the download/installation set-ups of other software. This deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing regular programs with unwanted or malicious additions is called "bundling". Rushing download/installation processes (e.g. skimming or ignoring terms, using presets, skipping steps and sections, etc.) increases the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content onto devices. Intrusive ads also proliferate these applications. Once clicked, they can execute scripts to stealthily download/install PUAs.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

You are advised to research all products before download/installation or purchase. All downloads should be performed only from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy download channels such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders can offer deceptive or bundled content. When downloading/installing, read the terms, study all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of supplementary apps, tools, features and other additions. Intrusive ads usually seem normal and harmless, however, they can redirect to dubious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating and so on). If you encounter advertisements/redirects of this kind, inspect the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Access Gov Docs Tab, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker asking for various permissions:

Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker asking for permissions

Website promoting Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker:

Website used to promote Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker

IMPORTANT NOTE! This deceptive site asks to enable web browser notifications.

Therefore, before commencing, perform these steps:

Google Chrome (PC):

  • Click the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Settings", scroll down to the bottom and click "Advanced"
  • Scroll down to the "Privacy and security" section, select "Content settings" and then "Notifications"
  • Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)

Disable pop-up notifications in Google Chrome web browser

Google Chrome (Android):

  • Click on the Menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the screen and click "Settings"
  • Scroll down, click on "Site settings" and then "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs and click on them one-by-one
  • Select "Notifications" in the "Permissions" section and set the toggle button to "OFF"

Disable pop-up notifications in Android Google Chrome web browser

Mozilla Firefox:

  • Click the Menu button (three bars) on the right upper corner of the screen
  • Select "Options" and click on "Privacy & Security" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen
  • Scroll down to the "Permissions" section and click the "Settings" button next to "Notifications"
  • In the opened window, locate all suspicious URLs, click the drop-down menu and select "Block"

Disable pop-up notifications in Mozilla Firefox web browser

Internet Explorer:

  • Click the Gear button on the right upper corner of the IE window
  • Select "Internet options"
  • Select the "Privacy" tab and click "Settings" under "Pop-up Blocker" section
  • Select suspicious URLs under and remove them one by one by clicking the "Remove" button

Disable pop-up notifications in Internet Explorer web browser

Microsoft Edge:

  • Click the menu button (three dots) on the right upper corner of the Edge window and select "Settings"
  • Click on "Site permissions" in the toolbar on the left hand side of the screen and select "Notifications"
  • Click three dots on the right hand side of each suspicious URL under "Allow" section and click "Block" or "Remove" (if you click "Remove" and visit the malicious site once more, it will ask to enable notifications again)

Disable pop-up notifications in Microsoft Edge web browser

Safari (Mac):

  • Click "Safari" button on the left upper corner of the screen and select "Preferences..."
  • Select the "Websites" tab and then select "Notifications" section on the left pane
  • Check for suspicious URLs and apply the "Deny" option for each

Disable pop-up notifications in Safari web browser

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Quick menu:

Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker removal:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

search.haccessgovdocs.com browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "Access Gov Docs Tab"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications that cause browser redirects to the search.haccessgovdocs.com website, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Access Gov Docs Tab browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com related Internet Explorer extensions

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Change your homepage:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Internet Explorer homepage

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Internet Options", in the opened window remove hxxp://search.haccessgovdocs.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you launch Internet Explorer. You can also enter about: blank to open a blank page when you start Internet Explorer.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Internet Explorer default search engine

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". In the opened window, select "Search Providers", set "Google", "Bing", or any other preferred search engine as your default and then remove "Access Gov Docs Tab".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com related Google Chrome extensions

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "Access Gov Docs Tab" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons (e.g., "Encrypted Search"), and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Google Chrome homepage

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "Access Gov Docs Tab" or "Encrypted Search", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://search.haccessgovdocs.com or hxxps://encryptedsearch.org) below the “Open a specific or set of pages” option. If present, click on the three vertical dots icon and select “Remove”.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Google Chrome default search engine

To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for "hxxp://search.haccessgovdocs.com" and "hxxp://encryptedsearch.org"", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Remove from list".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com related Mozilla Firefox extensions

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions" and remove "Access Gov Docs Tab", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins (e.g., "Encrypted Search").

Change your homepage:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Mozilla Firefox homepage

To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Options", in the opened window disable "Access Gov Docs Tab" or "Encrypted Search", remove hxxp://search.haccessgovdocs.com or hxxp://encryptedsearch.org and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing search.haccessgovdocs.com from Mozilla Firefox default search engine

In the URL address bar, type about:config and press Enter.
Click "I'll be careful, I promise!".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled"
Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the Mozilla Firefox switch about:config entry button button.

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...

removing browser hijacker from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.

Removing browser hijackers from safari step 3 - changing homepage

In the preferences window select General tab and make sure that your homepage is set to a preferred URL, if its altered by a browser hijacker - change it.

removing browser hijackers from safari step 4 - changing the default Internet search engine

In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate any recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage and new tab settings:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 2

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section look for the name of the browser hijacker and click "Disable".

Change your default Internet search engine:

Removing browser hijackers from Microsoft Edge step 3

To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Privacy and services", scroll to bottom of the page and select "Address bar". In the "Search engines used in address bar" section look for the name of the unwanted Internet search engine, when located click the "Disable" button near it. Alternatively you can click on "Manage search engines", in the opened menu look for unwanted Internet search engine. Click on the puzzle icon Microsoft Edge (Chromium) puzzle icon near it and select "Disable".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of browser hijackers while downloading free software sampleA browser hijacker is a type of adware infection that modifies Internet browser settings by assigning the homepage and default Internet search engine settings to some other (unwanted) website URL. Commonly, this type of adware infiltrates operating systems through free software downloads. If your download is managed by a download client, ensure that you decline offers to install advertised toolbars or applications that seek to change your homepage and default Internet search engine settings.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Software uninstall instructions
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
search.haccessgovdocs.com redirect QR code
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