My web browser has been hijacked
My web browser has been hijacked.
Spyware, adware, malware, and other Trojans are becoming an ever-growing threat to users who browse the Internet or install free programs. However, many computer users do not realize when these programs are secretly installed on a computer or realize when their system or browsers settings are changed. Below is a listing of potential symptoms a user may encounter when their browser or computer has been hijacked.
- Default home page changes to a different page; commonly an adult oriented web page.
- Computer slows down.
- New tools in the browser such as a new search toolbar is installed or added to the browser.
- Default search engine or other settings changed.
Unfortunately, many of the software programs designed to hijack a computer's browser are intentionally designed to be difficult to remove or detect. Below are recommendations on how these programs can be prevented and removed.
When installing free programs such as KaZaA, read the disclaimers and watch for additional programs that are being installed. Many times these programs are supported by automatically installing spyware programs.
If you no longer use these programs on a regular basis, uninstalling these programs will (but not always) also uninstall any associated software that is included with them.
If you are running Microsoft Windows and you have noticed a program that you do not wish to use or want uninstalled, see if the program can be removed through Add/Remove programs in the Control panel.
All of the legitimate companies that install toolbars onto your computer should be able to be removed through the Add/Remove programs icon in the control panel. Some examples include the Alexa Toolbar, ASK, Google Toolbar, Yahoo Toolbar, and Windows Live Toolbar.
If the spyware program you're attempting to uninstall cannot be uninstalled or gets reinstalled when you reboot the computer. Boot the computer into Safe Mode and then uninstall the program while in Safe Mode.
Restore browser settings
Some web pages and programs are designed to automatically change your browser's settings. For example, a web page or program may automatically change your default home page to an alternate home page. These issues can be corrected by following the below steps.
- Close all browser windows so that only one window is open.
- Visit an alternate safe site such as Computer Hope or Google.
- Correct the settings changed, such as changing your home page back to your original home page. Additional help and information about changing your browser's settings can be found on our browser help pages.
- Once the settings have been changed and applied, close out of the browser window.
- The next time the browser is opened it should have the correct settings. However, if the site that changed your browser settings is visited again, it is likely that the settings will be changed again. This issue can be prevented with many of the spyware or adware programs that are available today.
Spyware, Adware, and Malware detection and removal programs
Because of the ever-growing threat of these programs, many companies have developed programs that help prevent, detect, and remove these infections. Below is a listing of a few of the programs you may wish to consider.
- Microsoft's Windows Defender
- Ad-aware from Lavasoft
- Spybot Search and Destroy
- HijackThis by Merijn.
A computer can have any number of spyware programs installed at the same time and it's recommended that you have more than one to ensure your computer is not infected. When running these programs if the spyware returns after rebooting the computer boot the computer into Safe Mode and run the spyware programs while in Safe Mode.
Microsoft Windows XP users
If you are running Microsoft Windows XP, updating to the latest Service Pack will help protect your computer against spyware.
Try alternative browser
Because Microsoft Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser today and because of its vulnerabilities, switching to an alternative browser such as Mozilla Firefox can significantly reduce the amount of spyware you get on your computer.
Users who are running Microsoft Windows XP or later and are not able to remove a program that has hijacked their computer or browser may also wish to consider running the Microsoft System Restore and restore the computer to an earlier date.