How to remove the Smashtab browser hijacker?

Also Known As: smashtab.net redirect
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

Smashtab browser hijacker removal instructions

What is Smashtab?

Smashtab is a piece of rogue software, classified as a browser hijacker. Following successful installation, it makes changes to browser settings - to promote smashtab.net - a fake search engine. Additionally, Smashtab has data tracking abilities, which are used to spy on users' browsing activity. Due to the questionable methods used to distribute browser hijackers, they are deemed to be PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications).

smashtab.net browser hijacker

Browser hijackers primarily target popular browsers with large user bases. They operate by reassigning browsers' homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs - to the addresses of fake web searchers. Therefore, with such a piece of software installed: every new browser tab/window opened and search query typed into the URL bar - redirect to the promoted address. Smashtab also makes these modifications to browsers and the aforementioned actions redirect to smashtab.net. Illegitimate search engines are seldom capable of providing search results, so they tend to redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) genuine ones. The smashtab.net web searcher is not an exception to this, it redirects to the Google (google.com) search engine. Furthermore, browser hijackers can undo any changes users attempt to make to their browsers and/or restrict/deny access to the browsers' setting outright. Hence, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it. As mentioned in the introduction, Smashtab can track data. It can monitor browsing activity (visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, etc.) and collect sensitive information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). The gathered data usually contains personally identifiable information. What is more, browser hijacker developers monetize this information by sharing it with and/or selling it to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). To summarize, presence of data-tracking software on devices can result in severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. To protect browser/system integrity and user safety, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Smashtab
Threat Type Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab
Browser Extension(s) Smashtab
Promoted URL smashtab.net
Serving IP Address (smashtab.net) 176.74.176.184
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.
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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LiveSportSearchIConverterSearchChecking My EmailOptimumSearch(S) and Wowbrowse are some examples of other browser hijackers. They appear legitimate and offer a wide variety of "handy" functionalities. However, the advertised functions are rarely operational. In fact, this applies to practically all PUAs. Functionality, user convenience and safety are irrelevant - since the only purpose of unwanted software is to generate revenue for the developers. Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can hijack browsers, cause redirects, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collect private data.

How did Smashtab install on my computer?

PUAs are distributed via download/installation setups of other software. This false marketing technique of packing regular programs with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, skipped steps and sections, etc.) - increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the device. Intrusive adverts can infiltrate PUAs into systems as well. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to stealthily download/install these applications. Select PUAs have "official" download webpages.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is important to research software before download/installation and/or purchase. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources. Since untrustworthy download channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders - often offer deceptive and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive advertisements appear legitimate and harmless, however they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on). In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed without delay. If your computer is already infected with Smashtab, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.

Smashtab browser hijacker asking for various permissions:

Smashtab browser hijacker asking for permissions

Appearance of the Smashtab browser hijacker promoting smashtab.net fake search engine (GIF):

Smashtab browser hijacker appearance GIF

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Quick menu:

Smashtab 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.

smashtab.net browser hijacker uninstall via Control Panel

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

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the smashtab.net website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Smashtab browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove browser redirects:

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing smashtab.net 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 "Smashtab" and other recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons, and remove them.

Change your homepage:

Removing smashtab.net 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 "Smashtab", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.smashtab.net) 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 smashtab.net 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 "smashtab.net", 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 smashtab.net 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 plugins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing smashtab.net 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 "Smashtab", as well as all other recently installed browser plug-ins.

Change your homepage:

Removing smashtab.net 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 "Smashtab", remove hxxp://smashtab.net and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Removing smashtab.net 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 smashtab.net 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 smashtab.net 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.

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing smashtab.net 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 smashtab.net 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://smashtab.net 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 smashtab.net 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 "Smashtab".

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the smashtab.net 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

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 smashtab.net redirect from your Internet browsers, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
If you have additional information on smashtab.net redirect or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.

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.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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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
smashtab.net redirect QR code
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