Having your browser’s home page changed might seem like something a prankster would do, but it’s the sign of a more serious security breach. After email, browser-based attacks are the second most common method of malware injection.
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Browser hijacking (also known as browser redirection) is caused by malware designed to change your computer system’s web browser settings without your permission. The most common setting seen changed is your default home page that opens when the browser is started.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This type of malware can do much more than just land you on an unfamiliar page.
What Does Browser Hijacking Malware Do?
Besides changing your browser home page to land you on a malicious or ad-laden website, the hijacker can take over your web searches. Many people now know they can just type a web search keyword into the top address bar, and they’ll be taken to the search page of their default search engine.
This default search engine option is also stored in your system settings and can also be changed through browser hijacking malware. So, instead of ending up on Google or Bing for your search results, you’re landed on a malicious page that looks like a search page with several links, but these links are all malicious.
One more thing that browser hijacking victims are subject to is having their browsing history tracked by malware and the data stolen and sold to advertisers.
Browser Malware can cause multiple security issues, including:
- Serve up malvertising popups and ads
- Change your homepage and make it difficult to change it back
- Direct you to a phishing website
- Steal any information typed into your browser, such as a credit card number, full name, address, SSN, and more
- Spy on all your internet activities
- Steal login credentials to various websites or cloud tools
- Change your browser favorites and toolbar
- Continuously redirect your page to a malicious shopping site
- Direct you to sites that do drive-by downloads of malicious code to your system
Signs That Your PC May Be Infected with a Browser-Hijacking Malware
Your Home Page Changes and You Can’t Change it Back
The most common sign of a browser hijacking infection is to open your browser and suddenly be taken to a different home page. This type of malware will usually direct you to an advertisement-based website or to a phishing site designed to infect your device further with other types of malware.
A key indicator of a malicious browser home page change is that when you go into your settings to re-enter your desired home page, it won’t be saved. You’ll open your browser, and the malicious site will still be set as your homepage.
You Get Redirected from the URL You are Typing
Another sign of this type of malware is when the addresses you type into your browser’s address bar are redirected to other websites. This is a sign that the hijacker has taken over the DNS function of your browser, which is the system that matches a URL to a specific website.
Tons of Annoying Popups
Popup ads that seem to multiply and never stop are another key sign of a browser-hijacking infection. These ads can lead to seedy websites, shopping sites designed to steal your payment card details or be lures that download malware as soon as they’re clicked.
You See New Favorites/Bookmarks or Toolbars Added
If you notice that there are bookmarked links or toolbars added in your browser that you didn’t add yourself, this is another sign of a browser-based malware infection.
Hackers will automatically add links to malicious sites and usually make these links more visible by putting them in your top toolbar.
Your Browser Has Become Sluggish
Malware code can weigh down a browser, causing it to be “sticky” and less responsive than usual. If you’re noticing your browser has suddenly become sluggish, and it’s not simply because you have 100 tabs open, then you need to have your system checked for malware.
Your Default Search Engine Has Been Changed
If you no longer see Google (or another preferred search site) come up as your default search engine when you type a keyword into your browser, this is another sign that your browser has been hijacked. You should not click any of the search results that are listed when this happens, as they are typically going to all be to malicious websites.
Get Help Removing Browser Hijacking & Other Types of Malware
You don’t want to try to remove malware yourself or you could end up making things worse. Contact Magnify247 if you see any of the above signs of browser hijacking or other strange PC behavior.
We proudly serve Hamilton County and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for a free consultation.