Browser Hijacking is a form of potentially unwanted software that modifies your web browser settings without permission.
This can do things with your browser that you didn’t intend to do yourself.
For example, when your browser is hijacked, you might find that your previous default homepage has changed, or the default search isn’t Google anymore but a different search engine instead.
The purpose of these ads is to increase traffic on their site by getting as many people to click the ads as possible.
This the best case as a browser hijack can lead to malicious software to be downloaded.
Here, we will take a further look at what can happen, and most important, how to stop it.
How Does a Browser Hijacking Happen?
The more knowledgeable people become, the harder it is to create these hijackers that can take over and install malware. The more common means of doing this are:
Browser extensions added to a web browser are one of the more common ways of doing this as users give their consent.
Drive-by downloads are malicious practices of inserting code into users browsers without them knowing.
No matter how they do it, the symptoms are pretty standard and can include:
- Browser redirects to unintended websites
- Browser home page has changed
- Pop-up windows containing advertisements (also pop-under windows)
- The Slow-loading of pages
- Weird toolbars being installed onto the browser
There are toolbars, search bars and other software that is well-known and generally signs of a hijacked browser.
Toolbars are Conduit, Coupon saver, Babylon, Rocket tab, Ask toolbar and CoolWebSearch.
Apart from all of the above, one of the most frequent means of installing unwanted software is by the installation process of other free software.
The only way to stop this is by reading what you are installing and uncheck any boxes.
Watch Out for Browser Extensions
There is a type of malware that is installed as a browser extension. These are often listed as malware detection and cleaning extensions.
This malware that is listed as malware removal is the easiest way people are tricked into installing a malware program. Even Google can’t stop this from their store as the task is too large to manually check everything.
How to Stop Your Browser Being Hijacked
Google has there Safe Browsing which catalogues malicious sites on the internet. The information is available to the public and can be used by a few browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, and Apple Safari.
This list is frequently updated, so any warning received will mean a site is infected with malware, or they are known phishing web pages.
This program does have some downsides it has large privacy issues like logging requested sites, and setting cookies the NSA has used for tracking purposes.
Suspicious links are something you can keep an eye on. You can hover over any link, and the browser home page will reveal the link at the bottom of the screen.
How to Fix Browser Hijacks
Remove browser extensions can be one way to be sure there is no further risk. The trusted ones you may need to re-install, but at least you will have stopped any unscrupulous ones running.
On occasions, you can find that some programs need to be uninstalled, here are a few simple steps to help you manually do this.
- On Windows 8 or 10 click the Windows button, next click Search.
- Type in “Control panel” then press Enter.
- On Windows XP, Vista, 7, click the “Start” button and select “Control-Panel.”
- Once this opens, click “Uninstall a program” under the Programs icon.
- This will list all the applications installed on your computer. From here, you can easily remove programs.
- Scroll through the list, and uninstall a program that appears suspicious.
Sort by date is the easiest way to check for new installations.
The Google Chrome browser allows users to reset their browsers to the original state. Many others also now do this.
This is as good as any removal tool, but it will only get rid of browser related add-ons or extensions. It will reset everything back to the default so, you will have to save your bookmarks.
Scan Your PC
Once you have done this, it is a good practice to scan your PC with a good hijacker removal program.
These are slightly different than antivirus removal and targets these types of software that is stubborn to remove.
Browser hijacking now falls under the same umbrella as viruses, so to begin with, you could use good virus removal software.
While a lot of companies sell these, there are some excellent legitimate free antivirus software packages you can install.
Although most of this is aimed at the desktop, it might appear that mobile devices don’t have the same problem.
Any browser is vulnerable no matter what the device. One thing you can do with mobile devices which isn’t as feasible with a desktop is to reset your device. This puts everything back to zero.
The problem in doing this is you will lose all of your data. But with there being so many cloud computing options for storage, you can upload everything to this (good practice with a PC) and then hit the reset button on your mobile device.
Browser hijacker removal can be a real pain, and quite a few people have to go through it at some stage of their computing life.
While everything always appears to be safe, we never know what is going on in the background.
Have a good internet security strategy (and use a VPN) in place can be crucial to make sure all of your data and files remains yours. These hackers are after something and just bombarding users with fake ads is only the beginning.
Users need to take care and their privacy more serious, the more time they spend online. It is better to be safe than sorry, and the above ways are just the beginning of how you can protect yourself.