How to Remove Malware From Chrome — Full 2024 Guide

Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross Senior Writer
Updated on: April 30, 2024
Fact Checked by Kate Davidson
Tyler Cross Tyler Cross
Updated on: April 30, 2024 Senior Writer

Short on time? Here’s how to quickly remove malware from Chrome:

  1. Remove any suspicious extensions from Chrome. Malware can originate from bad extensions, and it can also install malicious extensions on your system. To get rid of these, go to your Chrome settings, open the Extensions tab, and remove any suspicious items.
  2. Install a good antivirus and run a full scan. Antiviruses like Norton can scan every file on your system and completely remove every virus and infected file on your device. Run a scan and follow the antivirus’s instructions.
  3. Practice healthy browsing habits. Don’t download suspicious links, verify the creator of every extension you download, and don’t open any files or links until you’ve confirmed the legitimacy of the sender.

Unfortunately, Google Chrome can become infected with dangerous malware. With its vast user base, Chrome is an attractive target for cybercriminals who continuously devise new ways to infiltrate systems and steal personal data.

Knowing what types of threats are on Chrome is vital to staying safe. For that reason, this guide will cover the various ways bad actors can use your Chrome browser against you, before explaining how to easily rid yourself of Chrome-based malware.

It’s important to note that for comprehensive security, you’ll need a quality antivirus. Norton is my favorite antivirus for removing Chrome malware in 2024 thanks to its flawless malware scanner and its excellent Chrome extension. That said, there are several other great options out there that can also keep you fully protected.

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What Types of Malware Affect Google Chrome?

There are a few different types of malware that are delivered via the Chrome browser. Whether they work by showing you ads or by stealing your personal information, the end goal is always to make money off of you in some way.

Here are some specific types of malware that have affected Google Chrome users in the past:

  • Chrome.exe Trojan. This malicious program disguises itself as the legitimate Chrome.exe process. It runs sneakily in the background, often consuming significant system resources, and it can be used to install other malware or to spy on your activities.
  • CryptBot Malware. Using various deceptive techniques, this nefarious tool steals sensitive data from Chrome users. It disguises itself as a useful extension but secretly intercepts login credentials, credit card details, and other personal information.
  • ChromeLoader. This covers malicious extensions that attach themselves to Chrome. They can then steal data, inject ads, or redirect users to harmful websites.
  • “Cookie Stuffing” Extensions. Researchers at McAfee recently discovered that this family of Chrome extensions is harming 1.4 million users worldwide. They work by “cookie stuffing”, a practice that involves adding extra information to a user’s cookies, often to generate illegitimate affiliate marketing revenue. These extensions can also potentially track you and compromise your privacy.
  • Malicious Chrome Update. Some malware disguises itself as an important Chrome update. Once installed, it can infect the affected system with additional malware, spy on the user, or make system changes without the user’s consent.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

Knowing how to get rid of malware is vital to staying safe online. I’ll walk you through the easiest ways to rid your Chrome browser of malware and remove suspicious extensions, and I’ll finish off by explaining healthy browsing habits to adopt if you want to stay safe. I’ll use Norton in this example, but keep in mind that all our top-rated antiviruses will involve a similar process.

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Step 1. Remove Suspicious Extensions

The first step to securing your Chrome browser is removing any suspicious extensions. There are a few ways to do this. If you see a puzzle piece on the taskbar, click it and then select Manage extensions. You can also select the 3 dots in the top right of Chrome, hover over Extensions, and select Manage Extensions.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

This will show a list of every extension installed on Chrome. Examine each extension and remove anything that looks suspicious or unfamiliar by clicking Remove. This will open another window where you will have to confirm your selection.

Step 2. Install a Reliable Antivirus

A solid antivirus is your best line of defense against Chrome malware and other threats. Norton 360, for instance, offers excellent real-time protection and quick detection of any potential threats. After purchasing your plan from the website, open up your File Manager and double-click on Norton.

Afterward, an installation wizard will guide you through the process — all you’ll have to do is click on a few prompts and customize your initial settings.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

Step 3. Run a Full Scan

Once your antivirus is installed, run a full system scan. In Norton, you can do this by selecting the Device Security tab and then Scans. Choose Full Scan and let Norton work its magic. It will search for any signs of malware on your computer for you.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

Once it’s done, Norton will show you any files it’s flagged as a threat, and you’ll have the option to remove whichever ones you’d like. It’s a super straightforward process, and while different antiviruses will have their scans in slightly different locations, this process will also be pretty universal.

I recommend removing everything your antivirus flags as dangerous. Advanced users may want to check the list to make sure there aren’t any false positives (these aren’t common with Norton but do arise with other antiviruses). You should then restart your device. I also recommend running a second full scan. Once that’s done, you can be confident that your device (including the Chrome browser) is free from malware.

Step 4. Use Web Protection

You can enhance your online safety by using web protection features. Norton’s Safe Web extension for Chrome, for example, warns you of potentially harmful websites before you visit them, adding an extra layer of protection against malware. Many other antiviruses offer free web protection in the form of browser extensions.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

Step 5. Turn On Real-Time Protection

To protect yourself against malware, you need good real-time protection. With Norton, go to Device Security, then head to the Advanced section, and make sure Auto-Protect is turned on. This makes it so Norton will scan all incoming files and downloads for you, making sure none of them are infected.

How to Detect, Remove, and Protect Against Chrome Malware (Step-By-Step Guide)

Step 6. Follow Healthy Browsing Habits

Finally, adopting good browsing habits will keep you safe most of the time. Avoid clicking on suspicious links, downloading files from untrusted sources, and visiting potentially dangerous websites. Though it definitely isn’t enough on its own, using Incognito mode in Chrome when visiting unfamiliar sites can also add an extra layer of privacy.

In addition, always verify the publisher of extensions or apps on the Chrome Web Store, since criminals can sneak malicious apps onto stores and get away with quite a few downloads before they’re caught and removed. Be sure to read reviews and check the download count when looking at extensions in the Chrome Web Store.

Best Antiviruses for Removing Malware From Chrome in 2024

Quick summary of the best antiviruses for removing malware from Chrome:

  • 🥇 1. Norton 360 — Best overall antivirus suite for removing all types of malware from Google Chrome in 2024.
  • 🥈 2. Bitdefender — Lightweight cloud-based malware scanner with a flawless threat detection rate.
  • 🥉 3. TotalAV — Easiest way to remove malware from Google Chrome (best beginner antivirus).

How to Know if Google Chrome Is Infected With Malware

Here are some signs that your Chrome browser might be compromised:

  • Excessive pop-ups and banner ads. While some level of advertising is normal on the internet, an excess of pop-ups or banner ads, especially ones that appear on sites that typically don’t have many ads, can indicate Chrome-based adware.
  • Browser redirects. If your browser often redirects you to unfamiliar websites without your input, your Chrome app is probably infected with a browser hijacker.
  • Changes to your homepage or search engine. Malware can change your default homepage or search engine to a site controlled by the attacker. This allows them to collect your search data or expose you to more ads.
  • Altered browser settings. If your browser settings change without your knowledge, such as enabling pop-ups or disabling updates, this can be a sign of malware.
  • Suspicious browser extensions. If you find extensions installed on Chrome that you didn’t install yourself, this could be a sign of a malicious add-on.
  • Slow performance. Malware can use a significant amount of your device’s resources, leading to sluggish browser performance.
  • Unexpected crashes. Frequent, unexpected browser crashes can indicate a malware infection.
  • Unusual data usage. An unusual increase in data usage can sometimes be explained by malware affecting your Chrome browser.
  • Unauthorized access to accounts. If your online accounts are accessed without your knowledge, it could indicate that a keylogger or other spyware is tracking your keystrokes.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s important to take action promptly to remove the potential malware and secure your device. Use your antivirus to run a scan of your system and follow the steps outlined above.

How Do Hackers Target Google Chrome Users?

Hackers employ a range of strategies to infect Chrome users with malware. Recognizing these tactics can go a long way toward maintaining your online safety:

  • Malicious extensions. Hackers often disguise malware as legitimate browser extensions. Once installed, these extensions can hijack your browser, steal personal information, or insert additional malware.
  • Phishing attacks. Hackers engage in phishing to trick users into revealing sensitive information. They distribute links to websites that mimic reputable services, like banks or email providers, in an attempt to steal login credentials.
  • Malvertisements. Some online ads are injected with malware. This is called malvertising and clicking on these ads can redirect you to harmful websites or automatically download malware onto your device. You can never go wrong with a good ad blocker, like the one offered by TotalAV.
  • Drive-by downloads. In this type of attack, malware is downloaded onto your device simply by visiting a compromised website, without any need for user interaction.
  • Man-in-the-Middle attacks. Hackers can intercept and alter communication between two parties to steal sensitive information. Users of public Wi-Fi networks are particularly vulnerable to this kind of attack.
  • Exploits. Hackers can take advantage of security vulnerabilities in browsers to execute malicious code. Chrome is regularly updated to patch weaknesses, but cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways in.
  • Social engineering. This involves manipulating users into performing specific actions, such as downloading a malicious file thinking it’s a harmless document or software update.

Best Ways to Protect Against Chrome Malware

Keeping Chrome safe from malware requires a combination of active security practices. Here are some best ways to protect against Chrome malware:

  • Use a reliable antivirus. Install a reputable antivirus software and keep it updated. It serves as an additional layer of protection against potential threats. For example, Norton’s malware scanner beat 100% of the malware samples I tested it on.
  • Update regularly. Always keep your browser up-to-date. Google routinely releases updates that fix security vulnerabilities in Chrome, which are essential to prevent potential attacks.
  • Use web protection. Chrome’s Safe Browsing feature alerts you to potentially harmful sites and phishing attempts, but having dedicated web protection from Norton or another good antivirus will grant you even better protection.
  • Use secure connections. Use websites that use HTTPS and avoid those that use HTTP. The former is a secure connection that encrypts the data transferred between your browser and the website, keeping it safe from interception, while HTTP is outdated at this point.
  • Only install trusted extensions. Be careful when installing extensions, as they can carry malware. Only install extensions from the Chrome Web Store and read user reviews before to see what others have said. You should also look into the publisher listed on the Web Store to make sure the extension is accurately presenting itself.
  • Download wisely. Only download files from trusted sources and scan them with antivirus software before opening.
  • Avoid suspicious links. Don’t click on links from unknown sources or suspicious-looking links from known sources, especially if the sender’s behavior is strange or they reached out to you first. The links could lead to malicious websites which steal your information.
  • Regularly clear browsing data. Regularly clear your cookies, cache, and history as they can contain sensitive information which, if misused, can harm your privacy.

Is Google Chrome Secure Enough in 2024?

To put it simply, Chrome simply isn’t secure enough on its own. While it features built-in protection like Safe Browsing, which warns users about potentially dangerous sites, downloads, and phishing attempts, antiviruses like Norton catch far more phishing attempts.

Chrome is not immune to malware or even breaches, hence the need for additional protection. For example, In 2022, the Chrome browser suffered from 3 successful zero-day attacks, the most notable of which exposed users across all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.

That said, Chrome is still one of the safest browsers out there, so I’m not pushing you to stop using it. I just recommend using Chrome alongside a quality antivirus, whether you’re on a PC or a mobile device.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of malware is on Chrome?

Chrome can be targeted by various types of malware, including adware, spyware, ransomware, and browser hijackers. The most common type is the browser hijacker, which modifies your Chrome settings without your permission, leading to unwanted pop-up ads, redirects to suspicious websites, and changes to your homepage.

These threats may trick users into providing personal information, downloading harmful files, or installing malicious extensions. Reliable antivirus software like Norton can help in identifying and eliminating such threats.

Is Chrome the only kind of browser that can get malware?

No, Chrome is not the only browser that can be affected by malware. Other popular web browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera can also fall victim to similar threats. It’s important to follow safe browsing habits and to have dependable security software in place, no matter what browser you use.

Whatever your browser, I recommend you use a quality antivirus like Norton or Bitdefender, remove suspicious extensions, and use good antivirus web protection — just don’t make the mistake of thinking your browser is immune to malware.

Is Chrome’s built-in protection good enough?

While Chrome does come with built-in security features, these aren’t enough to fully protect against all threats. The tactics used by hackers are constantly evolving, so having a dedicated antivirus like Norton is important to protect you from getting malware from Chrome.

For example, when it comes to phishing attacks, Norton blocked quite a few more suspicious websites than Chrome’s built-in anti-phishing protection, making it easier to trust that the website you’re on is legitimate.

How do I delete Chrome?

You might think your Chrome browser is illegitimate or want to delete or uninstall Google Chrome from your device. This process will depend on your operating system. Here’s how:

On Windows:

  1. Click on the Start menu and select Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Find and click on Google Chrome in the list, then select Uninstall.

On Mac:

  1. Open your Applications folder in Finder.
  2. Find the Google Chrome app and drag it to the Trash.
  3. Right-click on the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

On Android:

  1. Open your device’s Settings app.
  2. Tap on Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap on Google Chrome, then tap Uninstall.

On iOS:

  1. Press and hold the Chrome app on the home screen.
  2. Tap on Remove App, then confirm by tapping Delete App.

Remember that uninstalling Chrome will remove your bookmarks, saved passwords, and other user data. Consider syncing your data with a Google account or exporting sensitive data before removal.

Best Antiviruses for Removing Malware From Chrome in 2024 — Final Score:

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About the Author
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Senior Writer
Updated on: April 30, 2024

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."

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