Have you launched your web browser and noticed that the homepage has changed? Perhaps it is using a different search engine or you’re now getting inundated with pop-up ads? Maybe you’re getting redirected to pages you do not want to visit or your computer is not as quick as it once was? Any of these issues could mean that a browser hijacker has compromised your web browser. At a minimum, a browser hijacker will annoyingly change settings such as the default homepage or search engine and display ads all over your browser. In the worst-case scenario, however, it could lead to your identity getting stolen! This guide will cover what browser hijacking is, how you can stop it, and the steps you can take to prevent it from infecting your browser again.
A browser hijacker is a malware that takes control of your web browser. Whether Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or any other browser, a browser hijacker can infect it and take over. Malware is a shortened term that comes from malicious software, which alone tells you that it is not designed for a friendly purpose. Instead, it’s designed with the sole purpose of making hackers some money. Whether this is via ad impressions, stealing your online activity, sending traffic to rank websites, or stealing your banking information will depend on the type of malware that has hijacked your system.
3 key threats arise from malware. Identity theft, which is incredibly risky these days. Adware slows down your web surfing experience and opens the doors for more malware to flood in. Finally, there is tracking, which allows the malware to build a profile about your online surfing habits.
Identity Theft: This point needs no introduction. Arguably, today's number one cyber threat is identity theft. It is a threat for governments because criminals can get through borders and checkpoints without detection. As for individuals, it could spell financial disaster. Sometimes, entire families and even businesses have suffered the consequences of not properly predicting themselves against identity theft. Try to remember that once someone has your personal information, they don’t need to be online to use it to defraud you.
Adware: In the beginning, adware was more of a nuisance than a major issue. That said, if not dealt with quickly enough, it can lead to more serious malware that could cause issues such as the aforementioned identity theft. At first, it starts with annoying pop-ups and can become quite time-consuming. Adware can also take up valuable system resources, thus slowing your device down and your entire web browsing experience. Worst still, if you click on these ads even accidentally, it could be the catalyst for more malware. Never let adware get out of control, and deal with it as soon as it infiltrates your system.
Tracking: Some browser hijacking malware functions solely to track your internet activity. Websites you visit, where you shop, and more. Effectively, its job is to follow and record every move you make across the internet. It can latch onto your IP address and then build a profile of exactly who you are and what you like. The creator can sell this information for marketing or target you later down the line with ads displaying deals probably too good to be true. More than likely, the ad is a con designed to persuade you to take the bait.
Browser hijacking examples are a dime a dozen. There are hundreds of ways a hacker can design malware to manipulate your system. Some of the more dangerous browser hijacking malware includes keyloggers that can record passwords and/or bank details and sniffers that can track your data on forms. Then some are simply annoying, such as browser ads that pop up and can earn an adware creator commission or those that change your default browser or default search engine settings.
Below we cover some of the most common browser hijacking malware you may come across:
This is a piece of Adware that is incredibly inconvenient. The worst part about it, some people activate it and continue to use it. Unbeknown to them, it is a gateway for more malware and annoying ads. It claims to help your online shopping by offering you discount deals and bargains. Yet, in the background, it plants advertisements that pop up all over your browser, including your in your search results. Not only does this plug-in letter your browser with ads, but it also runs malware tasks in the background. It snoops through your browsing activity, records your search phrases, tracks your cookies, identifies your IP address and also picks up personal info about you. You could delete your browser history and cookies to throw the plug-in off its trail, but ultimately finding it and deleting it is the only safe way to stop this malware in its tracks.
Another form of adware, RocketTab’s claim to fame, is that it assists you with making your web searches more efficient. Yet, the truth of the matter is that it will pollute your browser with ad banners. The software is so clever that it can additionally alter the text on web pages into hyperlinks to more ads. Of course, what would an adware pest be without its trademark pop-ups trying to sell or give away free software that contains more malware.
This piece of adware is also quite misleading and is a time killer. It is predominantly a pop-up piece of malware offering coupons and price comparisons. With this comes what looks like sponsored URLs that should lead you to a special deal. However, the Coupon server is just opening the doors for more malware to find its way into your browser and system files. It also has a fake search engine and will attempt to change your preferred search engine or homepage to its search tool. There are several coupon style adware programs out there, so if you currently use one, check that it is the real deal before continuing.
The last example of malware commonly found online is the Ask Toolbar. At first, some people may want to try this newfound web browser because it looks great and acts as a search engine. Those who are mature internet users may feel the brand and logo are familiar because Ask Toolbar derives from the original Ask Jeeves search engine. However, if you come across it, don’t use it because it is nothing but a breeding ground for malware. The troubles start as soon as you click yes to let it become your default search engine. It will proceed to auto-adjust your search engine settings and make itself your new homepage. Even when you attempt to change it back, it often resets itself. As an intrusive browser, Ask Toolbar is trying to earn revenue any which way it can. That means trashing your browser with sponsored ads, redirecting your searches to ads and websites that do not interest you.
Browser hijacking is just how it sounds. This malicious software hijacks your browser and assumes full control. It is annoying at best, but at worst, it could lead to serious issues such as the theft of your identity. You only have to read the news to find countless stories of people incurring enormous debts because of identity theft.
Then there is the privacy aspect. If the hijacker contains spyware, it will track all of your online activity. The websites you visit, the social media you use, the search terms you use. This is all to get an image of who you are, what you like, and the activities that you enjoy. The hackers then sell off that information to the highest bidder, which is usually marketing companies that can use it to send you targeted ads.
And all it takes to infect your computer is a dodgy website or fake browser extension. Before you know it, you’re inundated with adverts, can barely use your browser as it redirects you to other pages, and more! No browser is safe either. All the big names, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, have vulnerabilities that this malware can exploit.
What is a web or internet browser? A web browser is an application you use on your desktop or mobile device to open web pages. Examples include Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Brave, or Edge. Some mobile devices also come with a custom web browser, so it does not need to be any of the big brand names.
Cybercriminals create and use browser hijacking malware for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, it is to make money off of your pain. A web browser hijacker will take over your browser and lead to:
If any of the above occurs, a browser hijacker has taken control of your web browser. A cybercriminal somewhere has now monetised your computer or mobile device. They may want to bring in ad revenue by spamming your device with ads. Another trick is to keep directing your browser to a set webpage so that it gets more visits and thus ranks higher in the search engines. One of the most common purposes of a browser hijacker is to track your internet activity and collect your data so that they can sell it to a marketing company. The scariest potential purpose is stealing your banking details, personal information and more - your identity could get stolen! These web browser hijackers can behave differently depending on the tasks they have programmed them to perform. Some only have a simple task, such as forcing you to use another web browser. Others could have multiple tasks which can altogether alter your web browser settings. They can add shortcuts to your toolbar, which is usually so you click on it and create more web traffic. Or you could end up clicking on an ad that pays commission to the website owner (the creator of the hijacker).
Here are some reasons people code web hijackers:
Your web browser is the gateway to the World Wide Web (WWW) across the internet. Contrary to popular belief, the internet is not the World Wide Web. They are 2 different things entirely, although we use the terminology interchangeably. Below, we give a brief description of both.
The Internet: This is essentially a network of devices, wires, and signals that connects us all. It is host to blockchain ecosystems, the Dark Web, as well as applications and systems that are inaccessible (unless you have the right tools to access them). These networks do not function using the same protocols websites and web browsers use on the Web. As a result, the internet is merely the framework or infrastructure that allows data to flow through it. This can be a telephone line, satellite, fibre optic cable, 4G network, and so on.
The World Wide Web: This is a set of protocols used to load web pages. With it comes a unique address system that uses the IP protocol. Your browser uses these protocols to transport HTML code, connect it to a web server, then load the HTML code on your web browser. This is just one in thousands of systems on the internet but also is by far the most popular because we all use the World Wide Web.
Now your web browser connects you to the internet by initiating requests over the internet, and it can record those requests via your browser. When you log on to your online banking, book a holiday, shop online, or anything else, play games, different malware can record or hijack that information.
Commonly used malware includes adware that bombards you with unwanted and strange pop-ups. Another is spyware that secretly records your internet browsing habits, mines your search history, and collects private information. On top of this, malware can redirect you to shady search engines or web pages just waiting to add more malware to your browser. For example, it redirects you to an ad that says “You have won an iPhone, click here for more information”.
How can the Guardio hijacking removal tool help? You can see just how valuable access to your web browser is to cybercriminals. By using the Guardio browser hijacking removal tool, you can instantly put pay to their plans. It will remove threats currently on your system, block others from installing, and will prevent you from visiting dangerous websites. It will let you take back control of your browser and prevent such an infection from occurring again.
There are ways to tackle browser hijacking manually. Below, we look at some fixes you can use to reverse changes made by malware. We walk you through how to access browser plugins, extensions, and add-ons so you can remove or reverse any changes made without your authorisation.
Warning: Try not to remove everything you don’t like the look of because your system may require some of the software to run. If you are using a device provided by your place of employment, then ask an IT specialist to perform this operation on your behalf. Also, if anyone else uses your device, ask to make sure you are not uninstalling apps they may use regularly.
Another way to make sure your browser is entirely clean is to clear your browsing history and other information, like Form Data, Download History, Cookies and website dates, and Temporary Internet files and website files. You can even clear all your passwords stored.
Note: The very first option is Preserve Favorites website data in step 4. Any websites you have saved under favourites will remain intact. Therefore, check you recognise all bookmarked websites and remove any you don’t. The above processes will clear your browsing history and any cookies on your device. It is like a fresh start for your browser. Just be mindful that if you save your passwords in your browser, then it is important not to select the option to delete passwords. With that, we suggest purchasing a password security program to manage your online web browser passwords.
At this point in our guide, you will know the dangers web browsers (internet browsers) can pose. You know malware can come in many forms, and you understand there are a few quick manual fixes. This includes how to uninstall apps you feel don’t belong on your device, and how to delete your browsing history and passwords manually. Plus, you understand random bookmarks can appear in your bookmarks because of malware on your device. Here’s a recap of some areas you can apply manual fixes to resolve issues with your web browser:
The key take-home here is that the above manual fixes are temporary and may not remove all malware from your device. The issue could continue to reoccur or get worse. To avoid the situation worsening, install powerful browser hijacking prevention software that will unearth and remove malware for good.
Also, our Guardio browser hijacking removal tool will prevent the problems you can fix manually, from happening again. And the beauty of all this is that the software runs in the background 24/7 with no user intervention.
While you might enjoy success by removing the hijacker manually, there is still the chance that it could resurface. Sometimes malware is a pain to remove and even when you think it has gone, it returns more annoying than ever. Plus, even if it has gone, you want to make sure that you protect your system in the future.
In either case, this is where our Guardio browser protection tool comes into play. It not only makes sure any malware is permanently removed but also ensures that your browser stays protected. It runs quietly but effectively in the background by scanning websites, downloads, extensions, and your computer.
If you’re about to visit a dangerous website, it stops you in your tracks. Guardio also removes any malicious browser extensions currently installed while also preventing you from downloading others known as threats. Our browser protection tool also tracks all your email accounts to ensure there are no data breaches and prevents malicious pop-ups or notifications from appearing.
The short answer is as soon as possible. Malware gets its name from ‘malicious software’, which means it’s specifically designed to cause havoc with your computer system. The longer you leave it before protecting your system, the more likely it is that malware will strike. Malware could infect your web browser when visiting an unsecured website or it might be within some software that you download. Without the protection afforded by the Guardio browser protection tool, your system is a sitting duck.
Unfortunately, some leave it too late and will download our software to rescue their already infected computer systems. The only good thing to come out of this type of situation is that they will not make that same mistake again.
Being too late to protect your devices isn’t an issue solely experienced by individuals. Small to medium-size businesses, and even some large corporations, are still being surprised by malware. This is despite all the information that is out there today warning them of such threats.
To sum up, if you value your computer, online privacy, personal information, and sanity, you need to install the Guardio browser protection tool. It takes just a matter of seconds to install and start protecting your browser straight away. The extension will clean up your browser, remove threats, including malware, and prevent you from visiting harmful sites.
You don’t need to look for browser hijackers because the signs and symptoms reveal themselves. That being said, some forms of malware operate in stealth, so it still doesn’t hurt to check. Here are some of the more obvious telltale signs:
Spam: When we say spam, we don’t mean email spam. Rather, adware spams your system with unwanted pop-ups or redirects your web searches to spammy websites. Often these sites come with more pop-ups and browser hijacking malware. Pop-ups are one of the worst types of spam because they can multiply. Other spam methods used by malware include hyperlinks written into your web searches, randomly inserted in articles you read, redirects unrelated to your search and new bookmarks on your toolbar you didn’t save.
Homepage or Browsers Settings: If you have ever ventured into your web browser settings, there are quite a few parameters you can experiment with. Unbeknown to you, some apps or software have permissions to reconfigure these settings when you click ‘yes’ or ‘ok’. The result could be that your default browser changes to a phoney search engine, your bookmarks toolbar becomes infected with spam websites, or further malware infects your device. Always make sure you install a browser hijacking removal tool to search and destroy malware responsible for changing these browser parameters before the issue worsens.
Low storage space or slow speeds: Most browser malware hijacking your device requires system resources and disk space. Therefore, if your storage miraculously fills up or your device slows down, it is time to take action. The best of which is to install a browser hijacker prevention tool.
Yes, you can prevent browser hijacking simply by understanding the way the malware enters your browser. First, ask yourself how much you think you are at risk. Here are some questions to help you decide.
If you answer yes to any of these points, your device has a heightened risk of picking up malware. That’s because they lodge browser hijacking code in some cracked software programs, in torrent downloads, or are transferred to your device via free streaming websites.
However, we are not telling you to stop what you enjoy; just that you should take browser hijacking seriously. Even if you perform none of the above, it still pays to follow the tips below.
Public Wi-Fi: Browse safely using private browsing or incognito when using public Wi-Fi systems or unsecured networks, and try not to access non-HTTPS websites
Understand your web browser: Find out how to browse extensions being used and how to uninstall those you don’t recognise
Avoid unsecured websites: If you are not on a site with HTTPS, avoid downloads or any exchange of information. The connection is not encrypted so anyone can sniff out your data or hijack the connection to deliver malware.
Secure Browsing: If you use private browsing, the browser does not record your search history. This prevents malware from mining your history. You can also use a secure browser that will recognise and block malware extensions, block tracking malware automatically, and prevent most pop-ups.
Update your OS: When a new operating system update comes out, the nuances that come with it are worth it for the added security you gain. Updates usually include combatants against new cyber threats and plugging up security loopholes. Windows updates are especially important because these largely contain cyber security enhancements.
To round off this extensive guide on browser hijacker malware, we come back to a key point. The quickest and safest way to prevent malware is to install the Guardio browser hijacking removal tool. It takes just seconds to install and will get to work straight away. Working in the background, this browser extension will hunt down, remove, and prevent all forms of malware and viruses.
Our team continuously monitors new methods used by cyber attackers. Once identified, they quickly implement a prevention method and fix, which is then plugged into your software.
To finish, here are 10 key benefits to using the Guardio browser hijacking removal tool:
I love my Guardio! My Chromebook was damaged but as soon as l can get my laptop up and running, the first thing l plan on doing is downloading Guardio to keep it safe!
Mary Kate Schmahl
was having continuous ad popups
I was having continuous ad popups. Guardio took care of them all. I'm so pleased with this service! I'm also alerted about possible threats while surfing. I have every intention of continuing with Guardio.
Old Chromebook With Outdated Virus Protection
I have an older model Chromebook with built-in virus protection that Google no longer updates. The C-Book works fine, but I was hesitant to use it due to outdated protection. I also didn't want to buy a new model since mine still works quite well. Guardio to the rescue! Thank you for a good product.
Susan Sawsan Cain