The role of browser plug-ins
A browser plug-in expands a web browser's functionality by installing specific toolbars, adding buttons, links or other useful functions (like pop-up blocking). Legitimate browser plug-ins are not only harmless, but also very handy. Popular plug-ins include the Google Toolbar, MSN Search Toolbar, Macromedia Flash or Adobe Acrobat Reader. However, not all plug-ins are created equal.
Some plug-ins are malicious and will slow your system to a halt. Similar to spyware, adware and browser hijackers, these types of plug-ins are often installed without explicit user consent and usually do not allow you to manually uninstall them. Some malicious plug-ins even have integrated, innocent-looking toolbars that trick users into leaving parasites on their system. Malicious plug-ins can, among other things:
- Change your browser's default home and search pages to predetermined web sites without your permission
- Redirect your browser to a site whenever you type in an email address or perform an Internet search — for no obvious reason
- Modify browser settings to add insecure resources to the trusted sites list
- Degrade overall browser stability and performance
- Offer no functional uninstall feature
Malicious plug-ins predominantly affect Internet Explorer, though less prevalent threats are designed to subterfuge other popular browsers.
How to remove a browser plug-in
Unfortunately, most browser plug-ins cannot be removed using antivirus software. In order to remove malicious browser plug-ins, you'll need to utilize special spyware removal tools. These products will scan your systems and detect and eliminate most privacy risks. Powerful spyware removers include real-time monitors that prevent the installation of known risks and unauthorized system modification.