2.6.7 Browser Hijacker

A browser hijacking program is malware that modifies browser settings. It is installed without the user’s permission and knowledge. When a user types in a website, the browser hijacker redirects the browser to a different site. It may also change the home page or search engine that is desired. The new home page and the re-directed site are usually that of a company that has paid an advertiser to steer traffic to their website. The advertiser may receive revenue for every user it directs to that site. The browser hijacker may even prevent the user from visiting competitors’ sites. It may also barrage the user with pop-up ads and change browser settings including lowering security settings. Similar to spyware, a browser hijacker may track websites visited and send that information to the attacker.

Users can determine if they have been a victim of browser hijacking if their home page has changed, if their browser displays a website that the user does not expect, they don’t recognize links in their favorites list, or they are barraged by pop-up ads.

Most computers are infected when they download software particularly freeware or shareware, visit websites with malicious code, or install browser add-ons or toolbars. Avoid downloading any programs and installing toolbars and add-ons. Use pop-up blockers. Anti-spyware software can help protect computers from browser hijackers. If infected, spyware removers can help remove some of them.