What is browser hijacker?
A browser hijacker is spy or malware, commonly available as a web browser add-on that changes a web user's browser settings to change the default home, error or search page. It can redirect the user to unwanted websites while collecting sensitive private information for personal or business benefit.
If a browser hijacker is not removed, the infected web browser can, by default, take over the settings of the malware browser after each restart, even if the settings are adjusted manually.
Browser hijackers generate revenue and traffic to websites that collect personal computer data or install keyloggers, malware or adware to steal sensitive information such as usernames and passwords.
Usually, these hijackers are installed by dangerous free applications, promotional programs, or shareware that contain a variety of browser plugins and toolbars. In many cases, removing the host application does not eliminate the bundled parasite.
Lots of adware and Spyware-Parasites have built-in browser hijackers that are installed during the host parasite's installation process. Removing specific adware or spyware does not remove the browser hijacker.
Some browser hijackers that are regularly found enter the computer via ActiveX controls of Internet Explorer (IE) or use browser vulnerabilities.
A typical parasite can greatly complicate a user's job and reduce productivity. The negative effects can include:
Favorites and most visited pages are blocked.
Browser security is minimal.
Web queries cannot be carried out using search engines.
Necessary data may not be accessed.
Browser hijackers can also attack the system and installed applications. These parasites can cause browser instability problems, repetitive errors, and general performance problems.
Preventive tools include vigilance and common sense. For example, never click on pop-up ads from an unknown or untrustworthy website when installing extensions like Google Toolbar. If any software application requests approval before downloading, read the product terms carefully to prevent blind browser hijacking.
Merijn Bellekom has developed the CWShredder Hijacker Removal tool to fight CoolWebSearch (CWS), one of the first browser hijackers that directs web user traffic to search engine results using various forms of adware. At that time there was a lack of antivirus, adware and Anti-malware-Programs features to remove hijackers.