Removing the GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is GPT Search Navigator?
While investigating deceptive sites, our research team discovered the GPT Search Navigator browser extension. It promises to improve users' Google searches. Our inspection of this extension revealed that GPT Search Navigator is a browser hijacker promoting the ask.gptsearchnavigator.com fake search engine.
GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker overview
Browser hijackers promote illegitimate search engines by assigning them as browsers' default, as well as their homepages and new tabs/windows.
Therefore, with GPT Search Navigator installed on our test machine: new browser tabs/windows opened and search queries entered into the URL bar – resulted in redirects to the ask.gptsearchnavigator.com website. Additionally, this browser hijacker employed persistence-ensuring techniques to prevent browser recovery.
Fake search engines are usually incapable of providing search results and redirect to legitimate ones. At the time of research, ask.gptsearchnavigator.com redirected to the Google search engine (google.com). However, it might redirect elsewhere since it might depend on certain factors (e.g., user geolocation, etc.).
Furthermore, GPT Search Navigator spies on users' browsing activity. Information of interest may include: visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, bookmarks, personally identifiable details, usernames/passwords, credit card numbers, etc. The collected data can be monetized via sale to third-parties or otherwise abused for profit.
To summarize, the presence of browser-hijacking software like GPT Search Navigator on devices may result in system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.
|Name||GPT Search Navigator|
|Threat Type||Browser Hijacker, Redirect, Search Hijacker, Toolbar, Unwanted New Tab|
|Browser Extension(s)||GPT Search Navigator|
|Supposed Functionality||Improved Google searches|
|Detection Names (ask.gptsearchnavigator.com)||N/A (VirusTotal)|
|Serving IP Address (ask.gptsearchnavigator.com)||220.127.116.11|
|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).|
|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
Qwik Bee, Ocean Saver, Hockey Start, and World Clock Tab are merely some examples of browser hijackers we have analyzed recently.
Browser-hijacking software tends to appear legitimate and offer various features. However, the promised functions are rarely operational. It must be mentioned that even if the features work as advertised – that is not proof of the software's legitimacy or safety.
How did GPT Search Navigator install on my computer?
We acquired GPT Search Navigator from its "official" promotional page, and we found a deceptive webpage pushing this extension. Users typically enter such sites via redirects caused by mistyped URLs, pages using rogue advertising networks, intrusive ads, spam browser notifications, or installed adware.
Additionally, browser hijackers can be bundled (packed together) with ordinary software. Downloading from dubious channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks, etc.) and rushing through installation processes (e.g., using "Quick/Easy" settings, etc.) – increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the system.
Browser hijackers are spread by intrusive advertisements as well. When clicked on, some of these adverts can execute scripts to perform stealthy downloads/installations.
How to avoid installation of browser hijackers?
We strongly recommend researching software and downloading only from official/verified sources. When installing, we advise reading terms, studying available options, and using the "Custom/Advanced" settings to opt-out of additional apps, extensions, tools, and so on.
Another recommendation is to be cautious while browsing since fraudulent and dangerous content usually appears legitimate and innocuous. For example, while intrusive ads may look harmless – they redirect to highly questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult dating, etc.).
In case of repeated encounters with such advertisements/redirects, check the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with GPT Search Navigator, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate this browser hijacker.
GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker's "official" promotional website:
Deceptive website promoting GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker:
Appearance of ask.gptsearchnavigator.com redirecting to the Google 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 GPT Search Navigator?
- STEP 1. Uninstall unwanted applications using Control Panel.
- STEP 2. Remove GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker from Google Chrome.
- STEP 3. Remove ask.gptsearchnavigator.com homepage and default search engine from Mozilla Firefox.
- STEP 4. Remove ask.gptsearchnavigator.com redirect from Safari.
- STEP 5. Remove rogue plug-ins from Microsoft Edge.
GPT Search Navigator 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, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".
After uninstalling the potentially unwanted applications, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.
GPT Search Navigator 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 "GPT Search Navigator" 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 "GPT Search Navigator", look for a browser hijacker URL (hxxp://www.ask.gptsearchnavigator.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 "ask.gptsearchnavigator.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 ask.gptsearchnavigator.com 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 "GPT Search Navigator", 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 "GPT Search Navigator", remove hxxp://ask.gptsearchnavigator.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 ask.gptsearchnavigator.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, 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 ask.gptsearchnavigator.com 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of forcing users to visit ask.gptsearchnavigator.com website?
Redirects to websites like ask.gptsearchnavigator.com are caused because cyber criminals (e.g., developers of browser hijackers and search engines, etc.) generate revenue through them.
Is visiting ask.gptsearchnavigator.com a threat to my privacy?
Most likely, yes. Sites like ask.gptsearchnavigator.com are known to collect (and sell) visitor data.
How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?
The most commonly used distribution techniques include: bundled installation setups, untrustworthy download channels (e.g., freeware and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), online scams, spam browser notifications, and intrusive adverts.
Will Combo Cleaner help me remove GPT Search Navigator browser hijacker?
Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your device and eliminate detected browser-hijacking apps. It is pertinent to mention that manual removal (unaided by security programs) might not be a perfect solution. In cases where multiple browser hijackers are present: after one is removed – the others might simply reinstall it. What is more, browser-hijacking software may deny access to removal-related settings and/or undo user-made changes. Therefore, browser hijackers must be eliminated thoroughly and all at once.
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