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by Ray Carlson

Q. When I conduct an Internet search, the first few suggestions are not relevant and take me to webpages my antivirus says are dangerous. Why?

A. The major search engines like Google and Bing often include clearly labeled advertisements in their search results, but they have procedures to avoid including any malevolent websites. My guess is that you have downloaded a small program called "Browse Pulse" as an extension in your browser.

Each of the major browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, allow extensions that carry out special tasks like translating foreign languages, filling in forms, remembering useful websites, etc. Browse Pulse is advertised as accelerating searches and doing comparison shopping. Actually, it tracks your browsing history and sells that information to various companies. In addition it takes over your search and lists at the beginning sites that have paid them regardless of whether the sites have bad reputations. It lists these risky sites using words from your search to make you think they are relevant. You should not click on such sites.

Eliminating these extensions can be difficult. If you go to your browser’s list of extensions and click on Browse Pulse and delete, it will disappear but reappear the next time you start your browser. Free programs that eliminate malware like Malwarebytes recognize such programs. When you conduct a scan, it will identify and eliminate them in multiple locations. The next time you start your browser, however, this extension will be back You need to run a Malwarebytes type scan at least three times for it to eliminate variations under different names and in varied locations that can reinvent this extension. Anti-malware programs should recognize all such names.

Unfortunately, such extensions have been very profitable leading to the development of variations. Read reviews carefully before adding any extensions. In addition, scan with the Browser cleanup feature of your antivirus program or a Malwarebytes type program regularly in case these risky programs sneak into your computer.

Published: Courier 5/2/15 - Page 11A