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Chrome – Your browser is managed by your organization

The other day, my little one installed a third party software on his HP laptop. Subsequent to this install, he noticed that the Chrome browser started display the message – your chrome browser is managed by your organization. Since the laptop is meant for personal use and has no connection of any sort with any organization, this was one clearly something that was not normal. The laptop started showing degraded performance and soon encountered buffer overflows.

I looked around, because this was the first time this message appeared on any of our laptops. And, I realized that this could be on account of two possibilities:

  • installation of a third party genuine software that would control the Chrome browser. I read that some genuine software, including Avast , could cause this behavior on the Chrome browser.
  • some sites gave a workaround that focused on disabling the message. However, this is not recommended. Essentially, you are trying to disable the message without trying to resolve the issues. Without a resolution of the underlying issue, we are looking at a compromised system. So, this alternative was removed from the list of possible solutions to this issue of ‘your browser is managed by your organization’.
  • there were a few sites that talked about doing registry editing to remove the registry keys associated with Chrome policies. I did try to reset the Chrome policies through the Windows 10 registry. But, expectedly, this did not work. The registry entries came back on, right after I removed them from the registry. In case you wish to try this workaround, you would be better off following the instructions from this document on Google.

Clearly, something was on the system that was controlling the browser and also causing the system to feel outrageously sluggish.

I was able to resolve the issue by following a simple resolution process that focused on trying to find what was causing the issue and then cleaning my system.

  1. The first step that I undertook was to check the Chrome policy definitions on my system.

You can check this on your own system by typing the following on your Chrome’s omnibox:

chrome://policy

The output from this command showed that this Chrome browser has a set of additional configuration details:

a) extensions could be installed remotely

b) there was something more related to extensions, that I do not remember right now.

But, basically, there were 2 additional configuration parameters that indeed showed that the browser had been hijacked.

2. For the record, I have a Windows 10 laptop of HP. So, I tried to do a system restore on the Windows laptop to try and see if we can go back in time to a working configuration of the Windows operating system and applications stack. In many cases, Microsoft’s system restore is a very good option to fix registry and Windows related issues. In this case though, the system restore completed successfully. But the browser remained hijacked and the problem remained unresolved.

3. I followed up this step with the next step of uninstalling Chrome. Yes, I simply uninstalled Chrome because I felt that it would be better to get that stack out of active operation for now.

4. From the Edge browser, I downloaded the Microsoft Safety Scanner tool. You may download this from the Microsoft site as well. Here is a direct link to download it – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/threat-protection/intelligence/safety-scanner-download.

The good thing about this tool is that it is being constantly developed. And, it becomes redundant after 10 days of download. Any new attempts to use the tool will fail. So, practically speaking, you will need to download the tool once every 10 days.

5. At this point of time, I disconnected my system from the Internet. This was done to ensure that there is no intervention through Internet. I wanted to clean the system effectively, without being worried about a software piece that takes directions from an external and unknown entity. I suggest that you do the same and take your system off the Internet as you attempt to fix the issue.

6. I performed a quick scan and it came back with nearly 35 infected files. The Microsoft Safety Scanner tool cleaned the system off a Trojan that seemed to have inserted programs on this laptop. The good thing to note is that the Safety Scanner tool from Microsoft is free of cost. And, it is being constantly updated with the latest threat protection definitions.

Subsequent to this, I ran a full scan on the system. Again, I used the Microsoft Safety Scanner tool to do so. The full scan took 24 hours to complete. It came back with nearly 850 infected files. All these were cleaned out by the Microsoft Safety Scanner tool. Until this time, I did not have Internet or Chrome on my system.

Also, I will suggest that you run the quick scan or the full scan using the safe mode of Windows 10. So, boot up into the safe mode before running the MS Safety Scanner tool. This is also a recommended method from Microsoft.

7. Finally, I restored Internet connection through wifi. And, I downloaded the Chrome’s latest version and build. At this point, I did check the latest chrome policy definitions on the browser. You could check this with the following command

chrome://policy

This time, the laptop came back with a clean status. The Chrome browser had been cleaned off the inserted malicious code that targets the Chrome browser. The issue with ‘Your Chrome browser is managed by your organization’ was resolved with the help of a free tool offered by Microsoft.

8. Upon cleaning the system, the first thing I did was to install Quick Heal Total Internet security on the laptop. You may choose to install any good Internet security tool on your laptop to prevent a recurrence of such browser hijacking episodes.

9. If you are using WIFI connection, do change its password. This must be done with a view to plug any loophole arising out of a compromised WIFI password.

I hope the steps listed above help you in resolving issues related to ‘Your chrome browser is managed by your organization’

Peace and Happiness to all.