If you find yourself on unrelated sites when clicking result links after a Google search, don’t blame the search engine. You’ve got the Google redirect virus, a nasty security threat that can be remarkably difficult to remove. This particular type of malware is not something you can ignore, as it can do much more damage to your computer system than just redirect search results.

How to Tell if Your System is Infected

A redirect virus is malware that hijacks your browser or search page, redirecting you to other malicious sites. Besides site redirection, other unrelated symptoms of infection may be evident. Your Internet connection may slow to a crawl. Ads and pop-ups may randomly appear, even when not Web browsing. Anti-virus software may be blocked from updating, or stop running altogether. The virus may even keep you from running Windows Task Manager, an application that helps monitor the general health of your system.

How it Can Exploit Your System

Other names for the Google redirect virus are TDSS, Alureon, and Tidserv. Some common ways of getting this type of malware infection are by downloading and installing suspicious software, opening unknown email attachments, or clicking untrusted links on social media sites. Once it has found its way into your system and has entrenched itself, search redirection may be the least of your worries. Google redirect is a Trojan that uses rootkit technology. It can open a back door to your system, allowing hackers to take control of your computer and use it for whatever malicious or criminal activities they wish. They can even install other types of malware on your computer without you knowing.

Rootkit Malware

Since Google redirect is a rootkit, detection and removal can be extremely difficult. Rootkits are designed to alter a host computer’s operating system by installing hidden files and creating user accounts. Before your system has a chance to fully boot up, the rootkit is already active -- this is how it evades detection. Not only do rootkits hide themselves, they can also hide evidence of a hacker’s activities. Hackers frequently use this kind of malware to gain remote access to a system, cover their tracks, and turn infected computers into zombies to include in a botnet (robot network).

Removal Tools

Before you wipe everything clean and reinstall your operating system, don’t lose hope just yet. Yes, Google redirect is difficult to get rid of, but not impossible. There are some very good, free tools you can try, but a word of warning. Some of these tools will inevitably try to repair operating system files due to the nature of this malware infection. This might have a negative impact on your system, possibly even corrupting it further. A good rule of thumb would be to stick with a tool made by a reputable anti-virus software company. Even some of the large commercial companies offer free tools to remove this kind of malware threat.