You log on to your computer and open your internet browser and to your dismay your homepage has changed. You change it back but the next time you log on, it’s changed again. What you are experiencing is called browser hijacking. Browser hijacking is a form of malware, or spyware, that changes an internet browsers setting including homepage. Created for advertising and commercial purposes, the malware gathers information about websites visited and sends it through the internet to the malware writer. The malware can also redirect a user to a specific website thereby increasing the number of hits the site receives. This increases advertising costs for the website and profits the webmaster.
What Browser Hijacking Software Does
Unlike regular viruses that spread, browser hijacking malware must be installed and the installation can be done with or without the user’s consent. This happens during three common internet activities:
- Pop-ups – Hijackers install code on pop-up ads and when the user clicks on the ad, the browser hijacking software is installed. This happens without a set up wizard or warning.
- Downloading freeware or shareware
- Silent installation during a reputable installation – Like a parasite, some malware depend on its host for installation.
How to Remove Spyware
Violating a user’s privacy and tracking browsing habits are just a couple of example of the many consequences of browser hijacking. The internet user may experience unstableness, extra windows popping up, redirection of surfing, and new bookmarks that were not previously selected by the user. Overall, the internet becomes a nightmare for the user and if’s the first time dealing with this type of spyware, they may not know how to remove it from their computer.
There are several steps to remove the program from the infected computer:
- Shut down the browser. If the browser is out of control, access the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete and clicking on the browser process in the Processes tab.
- Disable pop ups. Typically under Tools and Options in the web browser is the setting for pop ups.
- Run an anti-spyware program. Spyware cannot be removed with anti-virus software; it must be removed with anti-spyware tools. If you do not have an anti-spyware program, look for a program that includes a real time monitoring tool that will prevent known risks and unauthorized system changes.
- Review for unwanted programs in Add and Remove Programs in your operating system.
Your homepage change isn’t only annoying, it’s also a sign that your computer has been infected with a browser hijacking malware. This type of malware spies on the user by tracking browsing habits and it causes multiple system problems on the computer itself. Malware can be removed easily and effectively with an anti-spyware program. Because it installs itself in the computer, anti-virus programs can neither identify nor remove spyware. Selecting a spyware program with a real time monitoring tool, like System Optimizer Pro, will prevent some additional attacks.