Imagine you get back to your home one day from work, only to meet your living room arranged in a way different from how you left it that morning. The color of the wall is different, your chairs are different, even your TV is different. It does not just end there, you decide to ignore the changes for the time being and relax to your favorite TV show as you are too tired to think. And as the TV comes on you realize it is tuned into a channel you have never seen, and every attempt you put into changing the channel only returns you back to the strange channel. What in the world happened in my absence you start to wonder.
A browser hijack is completely similar to that scenario, the hijacking software completely changes the default settings of your browser, including home page, default search engine, and it even opens pages abruptly without you consenting to it. It gets really annoying as you would find it difficult to focus on your work as multiple tabs and windows keep opening and you just have to close them one after the other. The pages that open up vary and are not related to any central theme in specific. My browser was once hijacked and the type of pages were pages with offers, E – commerce websites and some pop up “Click here for…” kind of adverts.
Why would a hacker hijack my browser you may be wondering, well for one thing having control over your browser exposes your activities to the hacker. If the hijack comes with a keylogger, your interactions with websites would be recorded too, and these could pose a security threat. Another reason the hijacker would want to take over your browser is to rack up impressions on the websites that open abruptly. Impressions serve as a means advertisers and advertising companies use to judge the effectiveness of any website, a site with high impressions imply that there is something interesting on the pages that attracts people, and so advertising company would pay top dollar to place ads on such sites. In order to make money off the website, the hacker would force the website to open on your browser, the opening of the website on your browser would increase the impression counter by one. Another reason is to have records of user search queries, the hijack would change the default search engine to something different. Whenever a search query is entered into this search engine, it is recorded and saved in a database, the result that shows is based on what the hackers want you to see.
In all a browser hijack is the worse threat to your privacy on the internet. Even if you have more than one browser on your computer, if one is infected chances are so also are the other browsers. And so it is imperative we talk about the structures you can put in place to prevent these threats and if you are already infected we would get to methods of removing the hack immediately after.
How to Prevent a Browser Hijack:
- Get an Internet Security software:
A good internet security software would help scan your computer in real time in order to avoid threats that may harm your system. The Norton internet security software would even go as far as letting you know how safe or unsafe the page you are about to visit is. It also helps scan attachments in the emails before downloading. You may not be 100% security conscious on the internet, but having a good internet security software running on your end would surely go a long way keeping your privacy.
- Suspect everything you see on the internet:
There are so many flashy good deals / interesting things that appear on the internet. One may be tempted to keep clicking on these links at first sight. But what only a few people know is there may be an adverse consequence to such actions. Some free downloaded software comes with spyware and when you decide to install the software, you, in turn, install the malware that comes with.
- Read between the lines of End User License Agreements of software before downloading:
Some software has it included in the text of the EULA that downloading the software would also download an additional software that would make adjustments to your browser settings. If the source is not genuine, please do not agree to such downloads.
- Keep your browser software up to date at all times:
Browser software companies research how best to update the security settings of the browser. And so, every new update comes with an increased security than the previous version.
If your computer is already infected with the Malware, protecting your privacy and removing the malware should be your next line of action.
How to remove a Browser Hijack virus:
- Download an antivirus that would scan your entire system and detect any type of Malware. If you already have one that works for you, update the software and scan the entire system all over again.
- Disable any add-on or extension that may seem strange in your browser. Depending on your browser, follow this steps to do so:
Step 1: Open Mozilla
Step 2: Open the Menu
Step 3: Select add on
Step 4: look out for suspicious add-ons or extension and disable them.
Step 5: Reset your homepage and browser back to default.
Step 1: Click on the customize chrome button located on the upper right of the chrome window
Step 2: Click on extensions, this can be found above settings on the left of the screen.
Step 3: look out for suspicious add-ons or extension and disable them.
- Download any antimalware software that has a lot of positive reviews, keeping in mind the advice stated earlier before downloading over the internet.
The browser hijack virus may look harmless on the surface, but just like every other Malware, what happens on the surface is nothing compared to what is going on underneath. Protect yourself today, be proactive when it comes to your computer security.