What Is A Browser Hijacker?

A browser hijacker is a form of malware program that modifies the web browser settings without the permission of the individual using the computer, and it usually redirects him to different websites that are malicious and which have not been intended to visit by the user.

These are often called browser redirect viruses as they usually redirect the user to different malicious websites and enable browser hijacking. It causes a problem to the normal functioning of the computer system when it alters the browser settings. A browser hijacker can change the computer’s default homepage or search engine, it also causes the slowing of web-pages to load, it also can install different toolbars without the permission of the user and pop-up alerts may occur and brings false advertisements with it.

A browser hijacker can alter the search and error page of a browser. It can redirect an individual using the computer to a different page and it is usually a malicious website. Browser hijacker is created for different reasons such as marketing, commercial and publicity reasons. This form of malware program can be harmful to the computer or device and needs to be removed at any cost. A browser hijacker has similar effects and functionality with Adware. It is categorized under privacy risks as it poses threat and danger to the user once his computer or device is infected.

What causes a browser hijacker?

The purpose of the browser hijacker is to generate an increase in fraudulent advertising revenue. It occurs when this malware program redirects an unsuspecting victim to the hijacker’s page then redirect him to web searches and results that link the hijacker wants him to see instead of the legitimate results of the search engine he is using. Once the user clicks on the results, the hijacker gets paid therefore increasing his revenue. The cyber-criminal can also use the user’s identity and sell the browsing habits to third parties which can serve for their dubious marketing schemes.

A browser hijacker sometimes contains spyware which can be used to gather the user’s private data and financial information. It can also install ransomware that will encrypt data on the unsuspecting victim’s computer or device and hold it as a hostage and will only be accessed once the victim pays the ransom to unlock it.

Browser hijacking is usually a part of the installation process of a downloaded application that a user thought that it comes from a legitimate source. The individual can be tricked into agreeing to an additional download when clicking the terms and conditions of a program. A computer or device can be infected by Browser hijacker in different kinds of ways, it can be thru file sharing, visiting infected websites, downloading infected files from the internet, and even sending emails with infected attachments. The browser hijacker can be spread thru the malicious websites. Different browser hijacker can come from add-ons from different programs or software. There are times; different companies may add small programs to browsers without asking permission from the users. The companies usually use browser hijackers to display their persistent advertisements or a free trial before buying schemes for a consumer. A browser hijacking can also occur when the company involved forces new and unauthorized software into the user’s current browser and it may take up a lot of space on the toolbar. The usual purpose for this is to trick the user to purchase the software or shop on the seller’s website. The makers of browser hijackers can range from computer and software companies and cyber-criminals or hackers.

How to prevent and remove a browser hijacker?

A browser hijacker can be detected thru different ways and these are:

  1. Update the Operating system and security patches – When the OS and browser software is frequently updated with security features will help prevent the occurrence of browser hijackers. Hijackers usually look for vulnerable spots that they can use to exploit. Running security software will help shut down these vulnerable points.
  2. Disabling JavaScript – JavaScript can be used by hijackers to retrieve personal and sensitive data. It can also be used to install other scripts without the permission of the user. Remove JavaScript as it is always turned on by default in the browser’s settings. Script Block and NoScript can be used in Chrome and Firefox browsers to disable and enable JavaScript accordingly.
  3. Avoid suspicious links – When prompted with malicious links, a user must never click on links that are not legitimate and comes from suspicious sources, these can be used by hackers to initiate downloading the browser hijacker malware.
  4. Avoid downloading software – Browser hijackers are sometimes bundled with legitimate software or freeware. Always take time to read the terms and conditions of the product before commencing the download.
  5. Antivirus software – Using a high-quality antivirus software program and updated with latest updates and security patches can prevent browser hijackers. It offers real-time protection from viruses or malware and it warns the user when the browser settings are changed by the software.

How To Remove A Browser Hijacker

Removing browser hijackers can depend on the circumstances. Here are some of the actions that can be done when a computer is infected by a browser hijacker:

  1. Check the authenticity of the browser add-ons by checking the add-ons manager and remove the malicious and unnecessary.
  2. Reset the browser homepage, sometimes when resetting the browser settings to the original default setting will be enough to remove the browser hijacker.
  3. By clearing the Domain Name System cache can be used to eliminate connections to malicious systems once the browser has been infected.
  4. Remove the infection by manually removing it by uninstalling by using the Add/Remove programs or Uninstall the program in the control panel.
  5. If the following steps have been unsuccessful, use browser hijacker removal tools that are usually available from antivirus software programs that will remove the malware accordingly.

In extreme situations, the browser hijacker can reinstall itself and the affected users must have to delete all the contents of his computer or device by installing a fresh operating system and the most updated version of the browser and finally, restore their personal data and files from a backup.

A responsible computer user must always opt for the best defense and it is by doing frequent updates and using common sense when browsing different websites.