Browser hijacking is a type of online fraud. Scammers use malicious software to take control of your computer's Internet browser and change how and what it displays when you're surfing the web.
How do I know if my browser has been hijacked?
- Home page or other settings change on your computer. Links are added that point to websites that you'd usually avoid.
- You can't navigate to certain web pages, such as antispyware and other security software sites.
- A seemingly endless barrage of ads pops up on your screen.
- New toolbars or Favorites are installed that give you icons and links to web pages that you don't want.
- Your computer runs sluggishly. Malicious software can slow down your computer.
Fix your hijacked web browser:
"Browser hijacking" is a type of online fraud. Scammers use malicious software to take control of your computer's Internet browser and change how and what it displays when you're surfing the web.
If you keep your computer updated with the latest security software and updates, and practice safe Internet browsing you're already doing a lot to keep the hijackers away.
But if you are already the victim of a hijacked browser there are several ways you can combat online fraud, free your browser from the hackers, and restore its settings.
Help restore a hijacked browser and boost browser security
The following six tips can help restore your browser's settings:
1. Stop cascading pop-up windows. If endless pop-up windows appear on your screen, you'll probably want to stop them first. To do this in Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or Windows 2000 while using Internet Explorer:
o Press CTRL+ALT+DEL, click Task Manager, and then click the Processes tab.
o Click IEXPLORE.EXE, and then click the End Process button.
This closes all instances of Internet Explorer. Then you can re-open the program to continue browsing as usual. To help prevent future attacks, you should also have a pop-up blocker turned on. The pop-up blocker is turned on by default.
To confirm that the pop-up blocker is on in Internet Explorer 9 click the gear icon and point to Internet Options. Click the Privacy tab and make sure the box is checked next to Turn on Pop-up Blocker.
If you still experience the other effects of a hijacked web browser, try the following:
2. Install Microsoft Security Essentials or another antivirus and antispyware program. Microsoft Security Essentials is free software that will help protect your computer from malicious software such as viruses or spyware. Many browser hijacking programs can be identified and removed by downloading, installing, and running Microsoft Security Essentials or a similar tool.
3. Reset Internet Explorer settings. If you're using Internet Explorer and your home page has been changed, you can often reset it yourself.
Note If you use Microsoft Security Essentials, Forefront Client Security, Windows Defender, or the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool and these tools have detected and removed hijacking software from your computer, these tools might change your home page and your search page to help protect against the malicious software.
4. Disable add-ons. Many browser hijackings come from add-ons, also known as ActiveX controls, browser extensions, browser helper objects, or toolbars. These items can improve your experience on a website by providing multimedia or interactive content, such as animations. However, some add-ons can cause your computer to stop responding or display content that you don't want, such as pop-up ads. Internet Explorer 9 warns you in the notification area of your browser if an add-on is slowing your computer down. You can also view the add-ons that you already have installed and disable the add-ons that you don't want by clicking the gear icon, and then clicking Manage Add-ons.