Browser hijacking


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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.

4 Comments

If you have a windows xp box; whenever that happens to me (which happens, sad to say, a lot); I use the System Restore option, and that usually clears it up. Also, AdAware 6 has saved my butt a lot too! Usually it's pretty good. I dunno if they have a version for the mac though (and I don't know what box you have).

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Thanks for the tips Dave, I used to have AdAware installed but I removed it for a reason I don't quite remember now; that XP system restore option sounds cool too.

I've got a mid-range PC (1.7GHz, GeForce4) running Windows 2000 Pro. Maybe after the quarter is over I'll think about an upgrade. I guess I've been lucky to avoid them until recent, and now that I know how to get rid of them it won't be as bad next time.

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Perhaps the upgrade you should consider is to a Mac. :)

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LOL =)

Having been a long-time mac user since way back in the day, 1984, your comment warms the cockles of my heart.

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