The latest worm/trojan annoyance to come along is browser hijacking. If you haven't yet been stung by this insidious genre of computer virus yet, then consider yourself lucky. I just spent the better part of my evening tracking down those little germs and wiping my OS clean after clicking the wrong link in a Google search.
For the uninitiated, browser hijacking is the term for malicious software which is loaded into your browser when visiting a web site which hosts the program. It ‘hijacks' your browser settings by modifying your default start and search pages. The purpose, of course, is to redirect traffic to a site of the hijacker's choice.
The real problem is that registry settings can be changed by these hijacking programs which makes it extremely difficult to get rid of them. By launching watcher threads, these malicious programs keep track of your settings, so if you change them—they change them back! If you delete the process—there's another one running which replaces the one you deleted! It's unnerving and frustrating, and certainly not how anyone might like to spend an evening.
I found most of the information I needed to return my computer to normal by visiting spywareinfo.com and reading this article. The article made reference to a program called HijackThis which I found very helpful. HijackThis lets you remove entries from your registry put there by malicious programs, but it doesn't know which ones should be there and which ones shouldn't… that part is up to you to determine, so it is no ‘magic bullet'. Furthermore, I had to boot my computer to SafeMode before I was finally able to delete the programs which were causing all the trouble. What a pain in the arse it was.
I wouldn't wish the problem on anyone; but if you do get stung, check out HijackThis.