Technically, one of the most popular topics discussed on our overall cloud computing bulletin board narrows down to what Web Browser Hijacking Programs are all about. Whereby, in most instances, most of our readers — who are also computer users — would want to know how to protect themselves from outside malicious intrusions. Lucky you, this guide is for you!
Definitely, Hell would be nicer than working at a hijacked computer or even a web browser. Is this situation familiar to you? You turn on the computer and ads spam you in every way. It would seem that you have an antivirus, so why are ads still haunting you? The task of antiviruses is to protect against malicious elements that can damage your data or hijack browsers.
And, by using various software tools like SpyHunter, you can easily detect and remove all malware or even Anti-Spyware Programs that are rogue among other threats for FREE. SpyHunter offers powerful, free anti-malware protection. From annoying pop-up ads to a bunch of unnecessary programs that constantly offer to buy something, while the CPU is at 90%.
That said, in this article, we’ll discuss in detail how Web Browser Hijacking Programs can cause mayhem to your peaceful web browsing experience. We’ll also list down some of the most common web browser hijackers and how to remove them. Now that detecting threats on a system or manually removing all traces of threats may be difficult for some users.
What Web Browser Hijacking Is All About
In essence, a Web Browser Hijacking occurs when unwanted software on an internet browser alters the activity of the browser. Internet browsers serve as the “window” to the internet, and people use them to search for a variety of information here and there. Whether it’s how to do stuff (or how they work), looking for the best service solutions, learning more about a product, etc.
By so doing, they’ll either view this content or even interact with it in the comfort of their web browsing devices — and they are just so many — mobile devices, tablets, desktops, etc. Unfortunately, sometimes companies add small programs to browsers without permission from users. The makers of hijacking software range from computer and software manufacturers to hackers.
At times, it can even be a combination of the three. And, as a matter of fact, most unscrupulous individuals and organizations can inject their software into browsers for several reasons.
Such reasons include:
- Steal information from users or even well-known companies
- Blackmail innocent web users and businesses or even steal their money
- Spy on users or even display persistent advertising campaigns
- Run a try-before-you-buy hard sell to a consumer
Forthwith, it’s good to mention that, sometimes, some hackers will drop malware into web browsers to take users to websites used to capture critical information about them. The data could include just anything else. From user IDs, passwords, full names, addresses, and social security numbers, to even answers to security questions — like a mother’s maiden name, etc.
Then, thereafter, these Cybercriminals may use the information to access accounts that users log in to on the internet. And, as aforementioned, in some instances, they can even obtain financial data and steal a user’s money or identity. However, it doesn’t take a super-criminal to install the software in a user’s browser. Some marketing companies take the same steps.
Specifically, in order to follow activity on the internet to see the sites users visit and how long they spend on those web pages. They then either use the information themselves to target their ad campaigns. Or, otherwise, sell it to other companies that use the data to focus their marketing content. There are many other notable forms that we can borrow some ideas from.
Web Browser Hijacking Notable Case Scenarios
On one hand, it’s worth mentioning that; sometimes companies spend their advertising dollars on display ads that pop up on users’ devices or on messages that “follow” users around the internet. While, on the other hand, as of today, most websites selling goods or services are increasingly placing pixels in browsers. Suffice it to say, those pixels aren’t always fully removed.
Not even after web browser users respond to the advertisement campaigns or even business offers. According to Kaspersky, the most pernicious form of web browser hijacking occurs when a vendor forces a new and unauthorized software program directly into the browser itself. The intruding app could take up a significant amount of space on the browser’s toolbar.
Usually, the main purpose is to get the user to buy a full version of some type of software, shop on a seller’s website, or search using a specific query engine. Malicious or not, the files inserted into browsers take up storage space and slow down processing speeds on computers. Users need to be persistent in cleaning these files from their systems.
Relevant Topic: Why Cyber Security Awareness Is Important | Useful Tools
In most cases, this software is installed in your web browser. More so, in the form of plugins, toolbars, and add-ons. In order to remove browser hijacker programs, you need this browser hijacker removal software. Using this software, you can easily detect and remove all types of browser hijacker programs like infected scripts, toolbars, add-ons, etc.
However, some of this software cannot differentiate between clean and unclean programs. And hence, show you all the browser programs. By manually selecting programs from the list, you can remove them from your browsers. Some software also works as antivirus tools to help you protect your system from viruses and malware. All of this software is simple and easy to operate.
What Are Web Browser Hijacking Programs?
According to Wikipedia, Browser Hijacking Programs are any unwanted software that modifies a web browser’s settings without a user’s permission. And, as result, inject unwanted advertising into the user’s browser. To enumerate, Web Browser Hijacking Programs are those software tools that automatically change various browser settings without user consent.
This software generally takes over your browser and changes settings like search engines, the home page, etc. Plus, some browser hijacker programs also add advertisements to your browser. A browser hijacker may replace the existing home page, error page, or search engine with its own. Generally, they force hits on a particular website, increasing its advertising revenue.
In other words, a browser hijacker is a malware program that modifies web browser settings without the user’s permission and redirects the user to websites the user had not intended to visit. It is often called a browser redirect virus because it redirects the browser to other, usually malicious, websites. But, there’re also a few more things that they’ll track.
Consider the following:
- First, the computer monitor (for screen display resolution) a web user is working from
- Secondly, the Internet Domain and IP Address from which the user accesses them (location, ID, etc.)
- Thirdly, the date and time the user intentionally or unintentionally accesses these search engine hijackers
- Likewise, the pages the user is visiting using the search engine hijackers (with or without the user’s knowledge)
Equally important, if the user willingly or unwillingly linked to a certain website from another referring website, most web browser hijackers will track the address of such websites.
For such reasons, this is one of the reasons why you should uninstall any unfamiliar search engine from your browser. That’s if you’ll notice it has already taken over your normal web browsing experience. Some browser hijackers also contain spyware too. For example, some install a software keylogger to gather information like banking, e-mail authenticator, etc.
Some browser hijackers can also damage the registry on Windows systems, often permanently. While some browser hijacking can be easily reversible, other instances may be difficult to reverse. Luckily, various software packages exist to prevent such modification. On the contrary, many Web Browser Hijacking Programs are often unintended user-inclusive software bundles.
In most cases, they come in as “offers” in the installer for another program. Oftentimes, with neither uninstalls instructions nor documentation on what they do. As well as in a design representation way that is confusing for the average user. By doing so, they trick them into installing unwanted extra software.
Web Browser Hijacking Programs Notable Symptoms
As mentioned, a web browser hijacker is defined as a “form of unwanted software that modifies a web browser’s settings without the user’s permission.” The result is the placement of unwanted advertising in the browser. And possibly, the replacement of an existing home page or search page with the hijacker page. With the idea to make users visit certain websites.
More so, whether they want to or not so the hijacker enjoys higher advertising revenue. Browser hijackers may also contain spyware to obtain banking information and other sensitive data. And, as frustrating as browser hijackers can be, they luckily aren’t terribly challenging to remove — most of the time. Utilizing various software packages is therefore so essential.
So that we can keep hijackers away. Browser hijackers infect computers by numerous means, including through shareware, freeware, and advertisement support applications “deployed through the installation of a web browser toolbar or add-on.” Adware and spyware infections also result in browser hijackers, as does the exploitation of various browser vulnerabilities.
Resource Reference: Proxy Server | The Best Tools For Anonymous Surfing, Privacy & Security
Some of the most common symptoms of many web browser hijacking programs include searches that are redirected to different websites. As well as multiple pop-up advertisement alerts plus a variety of other related web browser issues such as slow-loading web pages. There are quite a good number of notable examples of web browser hijacking programs.
Including but not limited to the likes of Ask Toolbar, GoSave, Coupon Server, CoolWebSearch, RocketTab, etc. Fortunately, some antivirus software alerts users to the presence of adware and spyware. But, a few new ones could still go undetected, or the security software might be unable to root out the intruder. In these cases, users have to reinstall their web browsers.
More so, in order to regain control of the interface. In extreme instances, the hijacking program reinstalls itself in the web browser. And, as a result, web users may have to erase the contents of their computers. Then thereafter, install a fresh operating system and the most current browser version, and eventually, restore their personal files from a backup.
The Most Common Hijacking Software Types
In this case, we can consider quite a lot of web browser hijacking programs and sites like istartsurf.com and Search-daily.com. Whereby, istartsurf.com is a browser hijacker that may replace the preferred search tools. This infection travels bundled with third-party applications and its installation may be silent. Due to this, affected users are not aware that the hijacker is in.
And, that it has infected their Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox browsers. Whilst, Search-daily.com is a hijacker that may be downloaded by the Zlob trojan. It redirects the user’s searches to pornography sites. It is also known to slow down computer performance. By the same token, you may also find the SourceForge Installer.
Related Resource: Cyber Security Threats | 10 Key Types & Solutions To Know
A previous installer of SourceForge included adware and PUP installers. One particular one changes the browser settings of Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer to show the website “istartsurf.com” as the homepage. It does so by changing registry settings and installing software that resets the settings if the user tries to change them.
On June 1, 2015, SourceForge claimed that they stopped coupling “third-party offers” with unmaintained SourceForge projects. Vosteran is also a browser hijacker that changes a browser’s home page and default search provider to vosteran.com. This infection is essentially bundled with other third-party applications. With that in mind, let’s look at more examples below.
#1: DriveCleaner & WinFixer Malware
Particularly, WinFixer may be silently downloaded and installed by other malware (trojans, worms, etc) or it may be manually downloaded by an unsuspecting user from the product website. A good representative variant from this family is known as DriveCleaner. And although according to spywareremove it’s well ahead in terms of marketing, it’s yet a hijacker.
Drive Cleaner aka DriveCleaner is a fake security program used to trick users into wasting their money on it. On infiltrating a system, Drive Cleaner will delete all internet tracks, cookies, and temporary files. Equally important, it sets itself to run each time the system is started up by making modifications to the Windows registry.
In order to get users to purchase it, Drive Cleaner will display fake security alerts and pop-up messages claiming that the system is infected and in need of a remedy. When manually executed, the program displays the installer wizard. It then visibly downloads its installation files from remote websites and then installs them onto the system.
Some commonly used installation paths for the WinFixer family are:
- C:\Program Files\DriveCleaner 2006 Free
- C:\Program Files\DriveCleaner Free
On execution, the program will scan the computer system and display its scanning results. In terms of Registry, DriveCleaner may add one or more program auto-launch registry values. Such as the DriveCleaner Free, DriveCleaner 2006 Free, SDR6_Check, PAS_Check, UDC6cw, Dnse, etc. Learn more about disk cleanup in Windows from the Microsoft support team.
#2: Poshukach.com Engin Search
Poshukach (aka Poshukach.com Engin Search) is a browser hijacker! A sort of virus program that squeezes into your computer system, and after that switches the browser search engine configurations in your browser to one which it desires. It additionally makes different unwanted modifications that can cause personal information leakages.
That’s in addition to various other malware penetration. You’ll not likely mount this plugin by yourself, since their names are quite dubious, and the capability is extremely questionable. Typically, its “developers” specify that it can save the .doc/.docx documents from the web pages. More so, already to .pdf format, or to save the entire website on your disk.
It’s extremely hard to imagine if someone may be needed in such operations in 2022 and beyond. When Internet access is not time-limited and every computer has the ability to open the needed .docx files in Google Docs. However, besides their impracticality, they can easily be found in the Chrome Web Store.
Naturally, virus analysts sound the alarm relating to such spam. Something that flows right into the legitimate source of browser extensions, asking for the Google response – getting rid of these extensions from their site. However, they are still not hurrying to take care of that safety issue.
At the moment, unless things change, even though it poses as a newcomer amongst other search engines like Google, Bing, or Yandex, it’s just another web browser hijacker.
#3: Conduit (Search Protect) Toolbar
Conduit is a PUP/hijacker. It steals personal and confidential data from the user and transfers it to a third party. This toolbar has been identified as Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) by Malwarebytes and is typically bundled with free downloads. These toolbars modify the browser’s default search engine, homepage, new tabs, and other browser settings.
There are similar variants of conduit search such as trovi.com, trovigo.com, better-search.net, seekforsearch.com, searchitdown.com, need4search.com, clearsearches.com, search-armor.com, searchthatup.com, premiumsearchweb.com, along with other variants which were created in a customized way for the toolbar creation service Conduit Ltd used to offer.
A program called “Conduit Search Protect“, better known as “Search Protect by conduit”, can cause severe system errors upon uninstallation. It claims to protect browser settings but actually blocks all attempts to manipulate a browser through the settings page; in other words, it makes sure the malicious settings remain unchanged.
Search Protect has the option to change the search homepage from the “recommended” home page. Trovi, however, users have reported it changing back after a period of time. The uninstall program for Search Protect can cause Windows to be unbootable. Obviously, now that the uninstall file removes its own files and all the boot files in the root of the C: drive.
It also leaves a BackGroundContainer.dll file in the start-up registry. Conduit is associated with malware, spyware, and adware, as victims of this hijacker have reported unwanted pop-ups and embedded in-text advertisements, on sites without ads.
#4: Snap Do Engine
In reality, Snap.do (Snap Do Engine), or Smartbar developed by Resoft) is potential malware, categorized as a browser hijacker and spyware, that causes Internet browsers to redirect to the snap.do search engine. It can be manually downloaded from the Resoft website, though many users are entrapped by their unethical terms.
Perse, in most cases, it’s seen to affect Windows OS more. Unfortunately, Snap can also download many malicious toolbars, add-ons, and plug-ins like DVDVideoSoftTB, General Crawler, and Save Valet. In particular, the General Crawler — installed by Snap — has been known to use a backdoor process. Simply, because it re-installs and re-enables itself.
Especially, every time an affected user removes it through their browser(s). Notably, the Snap toolkit will also disable the option to change your homepage and default search engine. Luckily, it can be removed through the Add/Remove program menu.
#5: Vosteran & Trovi
Vosteran is Malwarebytes’ detection name for a browser hijacker that usually comes in the form of a browser extension. It targets Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera and changes the start page and search engine settings. Vosteran used to bundle its own browser with other software.
On one side, Vosteran Redirect acts as a web browser hijacker that changes a browser’s home page and defaults the search provider to vosteran.com. This infection is essentially bundled with other third-party applications. The identity of Vosteran is protected by privacyprotect.org from Australia. Vosteran is registered through Whiteknight.
On the other side, Trovi can be found when installing “Cheat Engine” or a different version of “VLC Player” on www.oldapps.com, or when downloading applications from certain freeware sites, such as Softonic.com or Download.com. Trovi uses Bing (a legitimate search engine) to provide results to the user.
Learn More: How To Remove Vosteran By Adaware
Although the address bar changes to Bing.com when showing search results, search keywords are executed through Trovi anyway. Trovi formerly used its own website to show search results with the logo at the top left-hand corner of the page but later switched to Bing in an attempt to fool users more easily.
Trovi is not as deadly as before with taking the ads out of the search results. More so, depending on what browser is being used but is still considered a browser hijacker. Important to note, that Trovi was created using the Conduit toolbar creation service and has been known to infect in similar ways to the Conduit toolbar.
#6: Trojan-Downloader: W32/WinFixer
According to F-Secure Labs, a trojan-downloader is a type of trojan that installs itself into the system. And then, it waits until an Internet connection becomes available to connect to a remote server or website. More so, in order to download additional programs (usually malware) onto the infected computer.
It’s a type of Trojan horse that downloads and installs files, often malicious programs. A Trojan horse is a type of software that looks legitimate but can be malicious in nature. Sometimes these programs can be downloaded onto a device without the user’s knowledge or consent.
Members of the Trojan-Downloader: W32/WinFixer malware family appear to be utility, anti-spyware or anti-malware products. When executed, however, these programs report misleading or fake results, with excessive amounts of false errors. Scare tactics are then employed, as the programs ask the user whether they want to ‘keep the errors.’
Or rather, purchase the full version of the software to ‘correct the errors. Winfixer is made by Winsoftware. The company appears to be affiliated with Vantage Software, which claims to be headquartered in Croydon, England, but registers its website in Chile and hosts its website on servers in Canada.
#7: Babylon Toolbar
Bitdefender defines the Babylon Toolbar as a web browser hijacker that will change the browser homepage and set the default search engine to isearch.babylon.com. It is also a form of adware. It displays advertisements, sponsored links, and spurious paid search results. The program will collect search terms from your search queries.
Babylon’s translation software prompts you to add the Babylon Toolbar on installation. The toolbar also comes bundled as an add-on with other software downloads. In 2011, the CNet Website — Download.com — started bundling the Babylon Toolbar with open-source packages such as Nmap.
Gordon Lyon — the developer of Nmap — was upset over the way users of his software were tricked into using the toolbar. The vice president of Download.com, Sean Murphy, released an apology. And, in the quote: “the bundling of this software was a mistake on our part and we apologize to the user and developer communities for the unrest it caused.”
Other variants of the Babylon toolbar and search homepage include Bueno Search, Delta Search, Claro Search, and Search GOL. All of these variants state to be owned by Babylon in the terms of service but are a creation of Montiera. With that in mind, you can learn how to remove Babylon Toolbar and Babylon Search settings in detail.
Some Web Browser Hijackers Removal Tools To Consider
By definition, Browser Hijackers Removal Tools are software products that protect the computer from programs that may steal personal information, damage the computer, or use it for illegal purposes. Removing a browser hijacker generally means using computer virus programs that specialize in spyware removal.
Protecting against browser hijacking is challenging. Frequent cleaning of directories with browser cookies and histories helps. It’s also critical to install and maintain quality antivirus software to stop malware from installing itself onto browsers. The security software should alert users to unauthorized installation attempts and ask how to proceed.
Uniquely, this reduces the risk of infection. Also, try to avoid running freeware programs, which upon installation may unpack software you’re unaware of. And be sure you check the download settings of any software you intend to install to reduce the chances of unwanted applications making their way onto your computer. Popular antiviruses consider everything to be OK.
But, we do not! For most Search Engines, browser hijackers will control the homepage and new tab page settings. So as to prohibit the ability to change them back to the original settings. Depending on whatever browser is in use, ads may appear on the page. And, whenever they infect, they’ll make a browser redirect from SERPs like Google to trovi.com.
- Wise Disk Cleaner
- Norton Power Eraser
- CCleaner Professional
- Loaris Trojan Remover App
- Mailtrap Email Testing Tool
- Malwarebytes AdwCleaner
- AVG Internet Security Software
- Bitdefender Free Antivirus Software
- Avast Free Antivirus & VPN
- Symantec Endpoint Security
- McAfee Antivirus Software
- Norton Security Deluxe
- Panda Antivirus Software
- K7AntiVirus Software Tool
- SpyHunter Malware Cleaner
Of all the above, we’d advise you to go for Kaspersky Internet Security as your first web-based and cloud security tool. Bearing in mind, it even received two AV-TEST Awards for the best performance and protection for an internet security product back in 2021. In all tests, Kaspersky showed outstanding performance and protection against cyber threats.
No matter which approach users take to protect themselves, the best defense starts with frequent Operating System (OS) and relevant web browser updates. As well as being wise — with all due diligence — whenever visiting websites. Generally, as with most things, the more you research and learn about browser hijacking, the better you’ll become at spotting the attack signs.
In addition to taking all the necessary action. On the same note, there are other topmost security vendors you can also consider utilizing their software. Always remember, that the task of most antiviruses is to protect against malicious elements that can damage your data. It so happened that the most popular ad networks operate in the legal field — there’re no violations.
Be that as it may, all you’ll need to do is use a legitimate anti-spyware application to completely remove any web browser-hijacking programs from your system. You turn on the computer and ads spam you in every way. Does it annoy you, just like us? It would seem that you have an antivirus, so why are ads still haunting you? Well, try an adblocker tool like Adblock Plus for free.
Technically, downloading the likes of a security software toolkit such as the Norton Power Eraser makes it possible to scan and remove unwanted toolbars. So, with that in mind, what else are you waiting for, a bell? Hell no! Go ahead and give any of the above Web Browser Hijackers Removal Tools a try today! And then, share your overall User Experience (UX) with us after.
Other Related Resource References:
- Where Spam Traps Come From And How They Work
- Windows Defender Security Center | How To Secure Your PC
- Website Security | Top #6 Steps To Secure Your Website Business
- Why Cloudflare? The #1 Best Tool For Web Performance & Security
- Mozilla VPN | The #1 Devices Security, Reliability & Speed Toolkit!
- The 5 Best Disk Cleaning Tools For Windows 10 Computers
That’s it! Everything to know and learn about the Web Browser Hijacking Programs plus examples of how they work. Do you think that there is something else worth mentioning? Well, you’re free to Contact Us and let us know. You are also welcome to share your additional thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or even questions (for FAQ Answers) in our comments section.
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