Removing the browser-hijacking Smartbase extension and the redirects it causes
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is Smartbase?
While inspecting suspicious websites, our research team discovered the Smartbase rogue browser extension. After we inspected this piece of software, we determined that it operates as a browser hijacker. Smartbase modifies browser settings in order to promote the legitimate Bing search engine (bing.com). Additionally, this extension collects sensitive information.
Smartbase browser hijacker overview
Browser hijackers assign the addresses of promoted websites as browsers' homepage, default search engine, and new tab/window URLs. Therefore, with such a piece of software installed: whenever a new browser tab/window is opened or a search query is typed into the URL bar - it results in redirects to the promoted site. In the case of Smartbase, the redirects led to the genuine Bing search engine (bing.com).
Browser-hijacking software most often causes initial redirects to fake search engines that then redirect to legitimate ones due to their inability to generate search results. However, that is not the case with Smartbase. It is worth mentioning that redirects caused by browser hijackers tend to lead to different websites depending on user's geolocation.
The developers of this software generate revenue through redirects. In some cases, the cyber criminals profit by obtaining illegitimate commissions for the promotion of legitimate websites.
Browser hijackers commonly use various persistence-ensuring techniques to stop users from recovering their browsers, and Smartbase is not an exception.
Furthermore, this rogue browser extension spies on users' browsing activity. Targeted data typically includes: visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, usernames/passwords, personally identifiable details, finance-related information, etc. The collected data can then be shared with and/or sold to third-parties.
In summary, the presence of software like Smartbase on devices can lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Browser hijacker examples
We have analyzed thousands of browser hijackers; NFT Tab, NoteTab - Save Your Thoughts, and Space Tab are just a few of our newest finds.
This software usually appears legitimate and innocuous. Users are lured into download/installation with promises of various "useful" and "advantageous" features. However, these functionalities seldom work as advertised, and in most cases - they do not work at all.
How did Smartbase install on my computer?
We obtained Smartbase from a dubious download page. In addition to such sites, browser hijackers are pushed through their "official" promotional pages and scam websites. Users typically access these webpages via redirects caused by sites using rogue advertising networks, spam browser notifications, intrusive ads, misspelled URLs, or installed adware.
Browser-hijacking software can also be bundled (packed together) with ordinary programs. Downloading from dubious sources (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushing installation processes (e.g., using "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) can result in bundled/harmful content infiltrating the system.
Intrusive advertisements proliferate browser hijackers as well. When clicked on, some of the ads can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user consent.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software and downloading only from official/verified channels. Installation must be approached with caution, e.g., by reading terms, studying possible options, using the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings, and opting-out of all additional apps, extensions, tools, etc.
We advise being vigilant when browsing since fraudulent and malicious content usually appears legitimate. For example, intrusive advertisements look ordinary and harmless, yet they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).
In case of encounters with such adverts/redirects, check the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with Smartbase, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
Permissions asked by Smartbase browser hijacker:
Website promoting Smartbase browser hijacker:
Appearance of Smartbase browser hijacker causing a redirect to the Bing search engine (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Smartbase?
- STEP 1. Uninstall Smartbase application using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove Smartbase browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove bing.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove bing.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
Smartbase browser hijacker removal:
Windows 11 users:
Right-click on the Start icon, select Apps and Features. In the opened window search for the application you want to uninstall, after locating it, click on the three vertical dots and select Uninstall.
Windows 10 users:
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.
Windows 7 users:
Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.
macOS (OSX) users:
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.
In the uninstall programs window: look for any recently installed suspicious applications (for example, "Smartbase"), select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications (which cause browser redirects to the bing.com website), scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
Smartbase browser hijacker removal from Internet browsers:
Video showing how to remove browser redirects:
Remove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate "Smartbase" and other recently-installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
Click the Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable "Smartbase", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.bing.com) 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:
To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the 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 "bing.com", when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Delete".
- If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.
If you continue to have problems with removal of the smartbase redirect, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the 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.
After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.
Remove malicious extensions from Mozilla Firefox:
Click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons and themes". Click "Extensions", in the opened window locate "Smartbase", as well as all recently-installed suspicious extensions, click on the three dots and then click "Remove".
Change your homepage:
To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Settings", in the opened window disable "Smartbase", remove hxxp://bing.com and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.
Change your default search engine:
In the URL address bar, type "about:config" and press Enter. Click "Accept the Risk and Continue".
In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled". Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the button.
Computer users who have problems with smartbase redirect removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.
Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, in the opened menu, click Help.
Select Troubleshooting Information.
In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.
In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.
Remove malicious extensions from Safari:
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click Safari menu, then select Preferences...
In the preferences window select the Extensions tab. Look for any recently installed suspicious extensions and uninstall them.
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.
In the preferences window select Search tab and make sure that your preferred Internet search engine is selected.
Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...
In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.
Remove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:
Click the Edge 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:
Click the Edge 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:
To change your default search engine in Microsoft Edge: Click the Edge 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 near it and select "Disable".
If you continue to have problems with removal of the smartbase redirect, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.
In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.
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.
- If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.
A 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.
Post a comment:
If you have additional information on smartbase redirect or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users to visit bing.com website?
Most browser hijackers cause redirects to sites, which tend to be fake search engines. Through these redirects - the cyber criminals (i.e., developers of these websites and software) generate revenue. At the of research, the Smartbase browser extension caused redirects to the legitimate Bing search engine. Cyber criminals often abuse affiliate programs to acquire illegitimate commissions for the promotion of genuine sites. Gathering information (e.g., search queries) may also be one of the reasons.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
Browser hijackers are primarily distributed via deceptive promotional webpages, freeware and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (Torrent client, eMule, etc.), software bundling, online scams, fake updates, spam browser notifications, and intrusive advertisements.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove Smartbase browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your computer and eliminate detected browser-hijacking apps. It is noteworthy that manual removal (unaided by security programs) might not be a perfect solution, especially when multiple browser hijackers have infiltrated the system. Since after one is removed - the others may simply re-install it. What is more, removal-related settings might be inaccessible and/or user-made changes undone with browser-hijacking software installed. Hence, it is paramount to remove browser hijackers thoroughly and all at once.
▼ Show Discussion