Have you been sent to a webpage that you did not want to visit? Are you getting inundated with pop-up advertisements? Has the homepage changed on your browser? If so, there is a chance a browser hijacker has infected your web browser. This is not only annoying, but could also pose greater risks down the line. A browser hijacker could damage your computer and even lead to your identity getting stolen.
This type of cyber-attack can steal your personal information, monitor your online activity, and infect your computer with harmful malware, adware, and spyware.
How does browser hijacking work?
When a browser hijacker infects your system, it takes control of your web browser and changes its settings. One of the most common ways you get infected by a browser hijacker is when you download and install a browser extension or plugin. Another trick used is secretly downloading other programs on top of others. For example, you might want to download PC cleaning software and during the process, it asks to download something else which you do not notice.
Regardless of the method used, once a browser hijacker has infected your computer, it could:
- Bombard your browser with unwanted adverts
- Change your homepage to a page the hijacker wants you to visit
- Steal your internet activity to sell to marketing companies
- Grab your username and password for online banking, social media accounts, and more
Fortunately, there are tools you can use to rid browser hijackers. Just make sure you get one that works with your chosen browser. For example, get browser hijacker removal Chrome or one for Firefox if you use that.
Is a browser Hhijacker a virus?
Technically, yes. A virus is a program that infects another program and makes dangerous changes. As it infects your web browser and makes changes designed to damage you or your computer, you can class it as a virus. Whatever it is classed as a browser hijacker is a software you do not want on your PC or mobile device. There is no such thing as a ‘nice’ browser hijacker.
What are the most common browser hijacker symptoms?
When your computer has been infected with a browser hijacker, you may notice:
- Your computer may seem sluggish (because of the software hogging your system resources)
- There is a marked increase in advertising via pop-ups
- Your browser redirects you to other unwanted pages
- The homepage on your browser has changed
- You might receive pop-ups demanding money for your system to return to normal
If you notice any of the above, you need to take action to remedy the situation. You should locate and remove the browser hijacker as quickly as possible. Whether it’s infected Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or the feature-full Microsoft Edge, it will soon cause damage.
How to remove a browser hijacker?
While you can download malware removal tools, there are a few manual techniques that you can use. Essentially, you need to identify the programs that may contain the hijacker and remove them.
- Go to the control panel and uninstall the programs you suspect might contain the browser hijacker. While there, you might as well uninstall other unwanted programs.
- Find and install reputable antivirus software. This helps to protect your computer and prevent this from happening again.
- Go into the settings on your browser and reset them back to default. This will remove the unwanted homepage and stop it from redirecting to other websites.
Tips to prevent getting infected by a browser hijacker
If you’re diligent, it is not difficult to prevent a browser hijacker from infecting your computer.
- Regularly Update Your Software: Updates might seem annoying, but they are essential. Always update your operating system, web browser, and security software, such as your firewall and antivirus.
- Be Careful What you Download: Don’t just download anything. Always research a program before hitting the download button. A quick Google search will tell you if you can trust it.
- Only Visit Secure Websites: If a website URL starts with HTTP, it is not secure. Only visit websites that start with HTTPS, which means it uses SSL certificates that encrypt data shared between your computer and the site.
- Always Clear Cookies: Browser hijackers will use your cookies to learn about your online activity. Always clean them after every session.
Following the above tips should be enough to stop a browser hijacker from infecting your computer again.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Zinkevych.