Key Pro Browser Extension
During their investigation into potentially untrustworthy websites, cybersecurity researchers recently made a significant discovery related to a browser extension known as 'key pro.' Their analysis of this software revealed that it functions as a browser hijacker, a type of unsafe extension designed to manipulate browser settings without user consent. Specifically, 'key pro' exerts control over browser configurations by redirecting users to a dubious search engine called keysearchs.com.
However, the implications of 'key pro' don't stop there. In addition to its invasive manipulation of browser settings, this extension engages in another concerning activity: spying on users' online browsing behavior. This means that it not only alters the way your browser behaves but also covertly monitors your Internet activity, potentially compromising your privacy and security.
The Key Pro Browser Hijacker Could Make Unauthorized Changes to Settings
Browser hijackers are a category of rogue and unwanted applications that tamper with various browser settings, such as homepages, default search engines and new tab page addresses. These alterations are typically made to promote specific websites, effectively causing Web searches performed through the URL bar and the opening of new browser tabs or windows to redirect users to these promoted Web addresses.
In the case of the 'Key pro' browser extension, it exhibits a particularly concerning behavior by pushing users towards the illegitimate search engine 'keysearchs.com.' Fake search engines like 'keysearchs.com' usually lack the ability to provide legitimate search results. Consequently, when users initiate a Web search, they are redirected from such fake search engines to genuine search engines as part of a redirection chain.
The analysis of the 'Key pro' extension has revealed several instances of such redirection chains. In some cases, these chains led users through 'keysearchs.com' before ultimately landing on the legitimate Bing search engine. However, in other cases, the searches pass through 'keysearchs.com' and then 'search-checker.com' before reaching Bing. The specific redirections experienced by users may vary due to factors like their geographical location.
Furthermore, browser hijackers like 'Key pro' often employ mechanisms to ensure persistence, making it difficult for users to undo the changes they've made to their browsers. This persistence can be frustrating for users attempting to regain control of their browsers.
What's even more concerning is that 'Key pro' likely possesses data-tracking capabilities. This extension not only collects users' browsing histories but also may target Internet cookies, personally identifiable information, usernames, passwords, financial data and more. The data gathered in this manner can be exploited for profit, either by selling it to third parties or by other illicit means.
Browser Hijackers and PPIs are Mostly Spread via Deceptive Distribution Tactics
Browser hijackers and Potentially Unwanted Programs (PPIs) are often spread through deceptive distribution tactics that exploit users' trust and lack of awareness. These tactics are designed to make users unknowingly download and install unsafe or unwanted software on their devices. Here's a description of some common deceptive distribution methods:
- Bundled Software: One of the most prevalent methods is bundling. Developers package browser hijackers and PPIs with legitimate software that users intentionally download and install. Typically, during the installation process, users are presented with a list of additional software to install, often with confusing or pre-selected checkboxes. Users who rush through the installation without carefully reviewing these options can inadvertently install the bundled hijacker or PPI.
- Fake Download Buttons: Unsafe websites and download portals often employ fake download buttons or misleading advertisements. Users may click on what appears to be a legitimate download button, only to download a browser hijacker or PPI instead of the desired software. These buttons are strategically placed to confuse users and lead them to unintended downloads.
- Misleading Advertisements and Pop-ups: Deceptive advertisements and pop-ups can trick users into accessing them, which may trigger the download of browser hijackers or PPIs. These advertisements may mimic system alerts or warn users of nonexistent issues with their devices, encouraging them to click for a supposed solution. Such actions can result in unintended software installations.
- Phishing Emails and Malicious Links: Users may receive phishing emails containing links that lead to websites hosting browser hijackers or PPIs. These emails often employ social engineering techniques to manipulate users into clicking on these links, thinking they are legitimate.
- Fake Software Updates: Some deceptive websites and advertisements present fake software update prompts. Users, believing they are updating their legitimate software, may unwittingly download and install a browser hijacker or PPI instead of the expected update.
- Torrents and Pirated Software: Illegitimate sources for downloading cracked software, movies, or games are known breeding grounds for browser hijackers and PPIs. Users seeking free downloads are at risk of inadvertently downloading malware-laden files.
- Social Engineering: In some cases, cybercriminals may use social engineering tricks to convince users to download and install unsafe software willingly. This could involve impersonating technical support personnel, claiming to offer security solutions, or otherwise manipulating users' trust.
To protect themselves from browser hijackers and PPIs, users should exercise caution when downloading software, only obtain software from trusted sources, carefully review installation options, and be skeptical of unsolicited emails, pop-ups, and advertisements. Regularly updating and running reputable anti-malware software can also help detect and remove these unwanted programs.