The Virus: What It Is And How to Remove It

This sneaky program targets your web browser

A conceptual illustration of the Lijit virus destroying a laptop computer.

 Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

If your web browser is constantly being redirected to a site called, is continually overrun with ad popups, or simply acting strangely, your computer might have been infected with malware. is a type of malware that impacts all types of web browsers including, but not limited to, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. It could potentially even impact your smartphone browser, too.

What Is the Virus?

The virus is actually a browser hijacker. It's not really a computer virus and it's not something you willingly install on your own, either, so it's fair to call it an unwanted application that slipped onto your system at some point. The software uses an inactive ad company website address to redirect your browser to unwanted ads that typically can't be stopped with pop-up blockers.

The ads might seem harmless but they can go from irritating to dangerous very quickly. The ultimate goal is to obtain critical information about the user that can then be reused to steal a user's identity and, ultimately, financial information. The data targeted can be anything from user IDs and social security numbers to your mother's maiden name or your high school mascot.

Although technically not a virus, is still widely referred to as a virus in popular lingo.

Other versions of this browser hijacker include,, and These can all redirect your browser to or other sites that seem okay but are actually designed to steal your personal information.

How Does the Virus Work?

This malware works by adding a small program to your web browser that tries a variety of tactics to strong-arm you into entering sensitive information in order to allegedly purchase something. Once installed, the software takes over or hijacks the settings on your browser so it can easily redirect you to the pages it wants to you to see and use.

From there, can use tactics that include spying on you through your web browser, capturing information that you type into your browser as you use legitimate sites, the relentless display of advertising and/or a try-before-you-buy hard sell ad that you can't escape.

Once you click on a redirected page, it can track your online activity, look at the type of software and hardware your computer has installed, and even infect your computer with spyware, ransomware, trojans, and other malicious software. However, it primarily works by displaying annoying popups, suddenly redirecting your chosen URLs, and altering search results to include URLs it wants to you to select.

How Do I Know I Have the Browser Hijacker?

This program is pretty easy to spot most of the time since it inundates you with pop-up ads, banners and other sales-related spots while you browse the web. You might notice that ad-blockers don't seem to work on your computer or you might experience significant slowing on computer system or even persistent crashes if it opens up too many ads or browser windows at the same time.

It's important that you remove this threat as soon as you realize you have it so it doesn't continue to steal your personal information as you browse the internet.

How Did I Get the Virus?

You probably never realized you agreed to install this software. That's because Lijit comes attached to free or pirated programs that you've willingly downloaded. Cybercriminals who create this type of unwanted software typically bundle it with legitimate programs available from bulk free software download websites. Because it's not really a 'true' virus, it can hide among a number of installation notifications asking you to approve extra pieces of software.

It's likely that you quickly clicked OK or a similar button to move the installation along and didn't carefully check every software notification to confirm whether or not it was truly safe to download. It's also possible that the software you downloaded didn't notify you at all of the extra programs it included.

If you pay close attention when you install free or pirated software, you can sometimes deselect the program from the software it's bundled with. This is usually an option when you choose a custom or advanced installation method; the program is preselected for inclusion and you can often spot it there and simply uncheck the option to include it during installation.

How Do I Get Rid Of This Virus?

The most effective way to get rid of any sneaky software on your computer is to use a strong antivirus software program that can tackle a wide variety of problems, including malware like the virus. This can take several hours to do but these programs offer the most comprehensive ways to remove malicious files. Other options include the following:

  1. Remove suspicious add-ons and extensions from your browser. The process varies a little for removing extensions from Safari and disabling extensions in Chrome. And in Chrome, you also have the option to use the Chrome Cleanup Tool.

  2. Unlike other viruses and malware, it is possible to manually remove simply by uninstalling specific apps relating to it. Both Windows and macOS have clear ways to uninstall apps you no longer want to use.

  3. You can clear your device of adware and spyware on your own. In some cases, you may have a persistent malware infection that causes the virus to keep coming back repeatedly. To deal with that, you can try removing the virus without using an antivirus application, but in most cases, both antivirus and anti-malware will be needed to remove these types of infections.

    If the problem is on a mobile device, you may need to try different techniques to remove the virus from Android or from iOS.

  4. If none of those steps solve the problem, you can use System Restore to return to an earlier point on your computer before you picked up the virus. Be sure to pick a time period where you know you definitely didn't already have the virus on your computer. 

How Can I Avoid Getting This Virus Again?

There are a few key ways in which you can lower your chances of being re-infected with (or any other malicious program).

  • Keep your antivirus software and malware protection updated. New virus definitions are released regularly and these keep your PC informed on what to look for with new virus and malware-based threats. 
  • Be careful when you download new programs. Always know the legitimacy of the source of the programs and apps you download. Unreputable sites bundle in extra add-ons that you don't require such as 
  • Block PUPs. In your antivirus software, turn on the option to detect Potentially Unwanted Programs.
  • Stick to well known websites. and other malware can infect your computer through the suspicious websites you might accidentally enter. Clicking on the 'wrong' link can lead to you downloading a program you never wanted. Be wary of websites such as torrenting sites. 
  • Don't click on banner ads. When a pop-up banner appears as you browse a website, resist the urge to click on it. If a site inundates you with pop-up advertisements, leave the site immediately.