What is browser hijacking?
What if your web browser suddenly started behaving as if it had a mind of its own? You think that’s not possible? Well, think again. A common way for hackers and malware writers to compromise your internet security is to seize control of your web browser, by use of a special form of spyware or malware. This is called “browser hijacking”.
How can a browser hijacker get on your PC?
A browser infection with this type of malware can be the result of a file share, a drive-by download or an infected e-mail. It can also come as an add-on for your browser or bundled-up with some free software. Once you download that certain piece of freeware, you unknowingly download the browser hijack, compromising your internet security. This may actually be mentioned in the user agreement, without of course being called “browser hijacker”.
What can a browser hijacker do?
Put it bluntly: make all sorts of changes to your web browser – without your permission, obviously – and in some cases, to your computer. Here are some of the actions a browser hijacker can take:
- Modify the homepage settings of your web browser, more commonly by reducing your internet security options. It can also prevent you from changing them back.
- Redirect you to websites you don’t actually want to visit; usually they redirect you to adult, sales-focused or spyware/malware-infected websites that can compromise your internet security and privacy even more. Because of constant redirection any parental controls on your family computer may turn useless.
- Return search results that have nothing in common with what you’re searching for.
- Block certain website you’d like to visit and show an error page instead.
- Display pop-up ads, sometimes in such large amounts that you are not able to close neither the ads nor the browser.
- Block the internet security program on your PC – this type of browser hijackers usually promote fake security tools
- Add Bookmarks or Favorites to the existing list in your browser. These “new entries” are usually adult, drugs-selling websites or fake online search engines.
- Display a warning message about your internet security while visiting a certain website, for example: “Warning: Your computer may be infected. Fix it now?”.
- Download additional malware to your computer.
- Slow down your computer to the point where it becomes unusable.
These are the most common symptoms your PC may show in case of hijacking. Hackers use it to force you to go to certain sites or see advertisements, and get money based on the number of users that visit them. They can also monitor your browsing behaviour or make you give up personal information for bogus services, details which then they exchange on the online black market. They can also prompt you to make online payments for bogus products. Some way or another, they make money out of your confusion and frustration.
Tips on how to avoid/remove browser hijackers:
- Keep your web browser updated at all times, as vulnerabilities in out-dated versions can be exploited by hackers. BullGuard Internet Security 12 comes with a Vulnerability Scanner that keeps you posted with every new update your browser needs.
- Don’t click on pop-up ads or pop-ups offering you something FREE of charge – to close them, never click on “No” (this could lead to downloading malware), but on “X”.
- If you suspect a browser hijacking infection, immediately disconnect your machine from the internet – this way you can prevent a browser hijacker from gaining further access to important data and files. However, if you’re still in doubt, contact the support service of your internet security service provider. They should figure out if you’ve been infected or not, and advise you what to do next.
- Get an internet security software that includes antispyware and antivirus features. BullGuard’s comprehensive internet security suite comes with these features, providing you with proactive PC protection against all types of malware.