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Browser Hijacker

Definition

A browser hijacker is a type of malware that alters a user’s web browser settings without their permission, often changing the default home page, search engine, or adding unwanted bookmarks and advertisements. It redirects internet searches and traffic to specific websites for generating ad revenue or for other malicious purposes. The purpose of a browser hijacker is often to monitor users’ online activities and send this data to third parties.

Phonetic

The phonetic transcription for “Browser Hijacker” would be:/ˈbraʊ.zər haɪˈdʒæk.ər/

Key Takeaways

  1. Browser Hijacker is a form of unwanted software that modifies a web browser’s settings without a user’s permission. This usually involves changes to the browser’s homepage, default search engine or error page and could lead to unwanted advertising, poor browser performance and potential lose of sensitive information.
  2. Browser Hijacker often comes as a part of a freeware installation that is supported by adware or packaged with other software, leaving the user unaware of their presence. Users must be cautious about what they download online, especially from unofficial sources.
  3. Protecting against browser hijacking involves measures such as updating anti-virus and anti-malware programs regularly, downloading software from trusted sources only, checking all options during the software installation process to avoid unknowingly installing unwanted programs, and regularly checking browser settings to spot any changes that might suggest a hijack.

Importance

The term “Browser Hijacker” is important in technology as it refers to a type of unnecessary software or malware that modifies web browser settings without the user’s permission, typically leading to unwanted advertising, altered search results, and potentially substantial privacy risks.

It often redirects the user to certain web pages, changes their home page, or displays pop-up ads excessively. Recognizing and understanding browser hijacking is crucial primarily for cybersecurity. It helps both individual users and organizations to maintain effective web browsing hygiene, protect their sensitive data, enrich their knowledge on various potential cybersecurity threats, and enforce tangible approaches to prevent such invasions.

Explanation

A browser hijacker is a form of undesirable software, often a type of malware, which alters a web user’s browser settings without their consent. Its primary purpose is to generate ad-revenue by redirecting internet traffic to certain websites. It typically redirects your browser to websites that you didn’t intend to visit, changes your default search engine, and injects advertisements into your web pages.

The primary motive behind this is commercial – to drive traffic to specific sites, boost advertisement impressions and increase sales or clicks. As an offshoot of malware, a browser hijacker can also have more insidious purposes. Some browser hijackers have the ability to record your internet activity, tracing your online behavior and capturing personal and sensitive information such as your keystrokes, login credentials or card details.

It then transmits this information to third parties, which could lead to privacy intrusions or identity theft. While it may seem less harmful than other types of malware due to its less destructive activities, it’s still considerably risky because of its intrusive nature and potential to feed your information to cybercriminals.

Examples

1. CoolWebSearch: This was a very infamous browser hijacker discovered in 2003. It redirects the victim’s browser to coolwebsearch.com or related websites, which were filled with spyware and pop-up ads. The program would also change the search page and home page on the affected browser to its own sites and make it difficult for users to revert to their original settings.

2. Conduit Search: This browser hijacker redirects the search results of affected users and their homepage to Conduit Search’s own pages. It typically entered a user’s system bundled with other software, and was very difficult to remove.

3. Babylon Toolbar: This program was typically bundled with other software and would change the browser’s default search engine and homepage settings to Babylon’s own search tool and partner sites. It was notorious for being difficult to fully remove, with traces often remaining after attempted removals.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is a Browser Hijacker?

A: A Browser Hijacker is a type of malware that alters a web browser’s settings without the user’s permission. This could involve changing your homepage, default search engine, or redirecting your web traffic to unwanted sites.

Q: How can I tell if my browser has been hijacked?

A: Common signs include unexpected changes in your browser’s homepage, new toolbars you didn’t install, frequent pop-up ads, redirection to unfamiliar websites, and a slowdown in browser or overall system performance.

Q: How does Browser Hijacker enter a computer system?

A: Browser Hijackers often enter a system bundled with free software downloaded from the internet, through malicious email attachments, or by visiting an infected website. They can also be hidden within deceptive ads, fake software update alerts, or peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Q: Is a Browser Hijacker harmful to my computer?

A: While some Browser Hijackers can be merely annoying with constant redirects and pop-ups, others can be harmful. They can intrude on your privacy by tracking online activities, collect sensitive data, or even install additional malware onto your system.

Q: How can I prevent a Browser Hijacker?

A: To prevent a Browser Hijacker, avoid downloading software from unknown sources, keep the browser and operating system updated, regularly scan your system with trusted antivirus software, and be wary of clicking on suspicious advertisements or links.

Q: What should I do if my browser has been hijacked?

A: If you suspect your browser has been hijacked, run a thorough scan of your system with a trusted antivirus or anti-malware software. If the issue persists, you may need to reset your browser settings or uninstall and reinstall your browser.

Q: Can a Browser Hijacker steal personal information?

A: Some Browser Hijackers have the ability to track and record your browsing habits – this could lead to personal information being collected. They can log keystrokes, capture screenshots, record search queries, and even steal login credentials.

Q: Is a Browser Hijacker the same as a computer virus?

A: No, a Browser Hijacker is a type of malware, but not specifically a virus. While both can harm your computer, a virus replicates itself and spreads to other computers, whereas a Browser Hijacker primarily alters the behavior of your browser.

Related Technology Terms

  • Malware
  • Browser Helper Objects (BHOs)
  • Internet Explorer Extensions
  • Spyware
  • Adware

Sources for More Information

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