My web browser has been hijacked
Unfortunately, many of the software programs used 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 them can (but not always) also uninstall any associated software that is included with them.
Any legitimate company's toolbars should be removable using the Add/Remove programs tool. Some examples of these toolbars include the Alexa Toolbar, ASK, Google Toolbar, Yahoo Toolbar, and Windows Live Toolbar.
If the spyware program cannot be removed or shows back up after removal, boot the computer into Safe Mode, and then try to uninstall again.
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 alternative one. These issues can be corrected by following the steps below.
- Close any extra 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 homepage back to your original home page. Additional information about changing your browser's settings can be found on our browser help pages.
- Once the settings have been changed and applied, close your browser.
- 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
Many companies have developed programs that help prevent, detect, and remove infections related to browser hijacking. Below is a listing of a few of the programs you may want 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; we recommend that you have more than one as a failsafe. If any spyware returns after rebooting the computer, boot the computer into Safe Mode and run the spyware removal program(s) again.
Microsoft Windows XP users
If you are running Microsoft Windows XP, updating to the latest Service Pack helps protect your computer against spyware.