Updating or adding browser plugins and extensions could put you in contact with a nasty piece of adware called Conduit or Conduit Search, if you're not careful. Although Conduit cannot directly harm your computer, it can put you in contact with some very harmful websites. Getting rid of it is also not the easiest process in the world.
Removing Conduit takes a little persistence, but it's well worth the effort to get your computer back to normal. In addition to saving you massive headaches dealing with misdirected websites, you could also save yourself from getting exposed to actual malware from Conduit's redirection.
If you have Conduit, you'll know it right away. Whenever you open your Web browser, it will default to search.conduit.com. Conduit will thwart most of your attempts to reach your desired websites, funneling you toward sites that pay Conduit's owners for every click they receive.
To start, you'll want three free programs: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Spybot - Search & Destroy and CCleaner. If you don't already possess these programs, Conduit could make navigating to their websites very difficult. Instead, download their installation packages to another computer and transfer them over on a flash drive.
Malwarebytes and Spybot actually fulfill very similar functions, and either one will theoretically get rid of the nasty programs that Conduit attracts. Still, running both couldn't do any harm.
Open one program, ensure that it's up to date, and run a scan. After resolving whatever problems you find, open up the other program and repeat the process.
CCleaner is not an anti-malware program, but instead sweeps out your temporarily files, including your Recycle Bin and temporary Internet cache. As a result, it's best to run this program last.
Your Internet-related files are now as clean as they're going to get, but you may notice that your browsers are still defaulting to Conduit Search and may display anomalous results when using other search engines. There's still a little manual cleaning to be done.
The good news about Conduit is that appears to affect only your default browser. If you usually use Chrome, you won't have to start toying around with your settings in Firefox or Internet Explorer. That said, Conduit can entrench itself very deeply and requires some real effort to remove.
Access your browser's settings menu. The first thing you'll want to do is reset the homepage. This is located in the "startup" section of the menu. Delete the Conduit homepage, and set it to a different site instead. Google is always a solid choice.
Next, you'll need to change your default search engine from Conduit to something less obtrusive.
In Chrome, access the settings menu and select anything except Conduit from the drop-down menu under Search. In Firefox, click the drop-down menu next to the search bar on the top of the screen and select something other than Conduit. In Internet Explorer, click the menu in the search bar and select a different search provider at the bottom.
Finally, Conduit tends to bring some nasty add-ons along for the ride. Access the add-ons menu in Internet Explorer or Firefox, or the extensions menu in Chrome. Simply deactivate or delete anything that looks suspicious — although to be safe, you could disable all add-ons or extensions until you find the culprit.
There may still be some lingering traces of Conduit on your system, but as long as you've manually reset everything and run malware and temporary file sweeps on a regular basis, they will disappear over time.
To avoid reacquiring it in the future, make sure to take care when installing new programs or updates. Don't agree to install any third-party software, and your system will stay clean and ad-free.