A Browser Hijacker is an unwanted software that changes a web browser's settings without the user's permission. But, actually a Browser Hijacker is much more serious than that. Other than changing browser's settings, it often installs adware, spyware or other malwares and steals sensitive user information, making the user vulnerable for even more attacks.
I think almost all of us have encountered them at some point of time. Most of the time, they are bundled with software from untrusted sources. Some software installs them as ad-ons by default and some gives us the option to install it and a user installs them by mistake.
Once installed, they change browser settings, default search engine, home page. Some of them installs adware and starts displaying unwanted ads. And most of the they install additional malware and start stealing sensitive user information like username, credit card numbers etc. As a result, the user becomes vulnerable to more attacks like Phishing. They slow down computer performance. And some of them change systems settings so maliciously that the user becomes left with no other option than to uninstall the Operating Systems.
This article will mention a couple of most common Browser Hijackers and how they affect a computer. I am pretty sure, if you have experienced sudden slow down of your system or display of unwanted ads or pornographic sites, you can recognize few of them in your system.
Ask Toolbar – This hijacker comes as a bundle with software from untrusted source. It changes the browser settings like homepage and default search engine. It also displays unwanted adverts. You can uninstall it from your system's Add/Remove Programs.
Babylon Toolbar – This also comes with software from untrusted source. It changes the browser homepage. It changes the default search engine to isearch.babylon.com. It also installs additional adware and displays unwanted adverts, sponsored links and spurious search results. The program also steals user data like search terms etc. This also can be uninstalled from system's Add/Remove Programs.
Conduit Search – This also comes with software from unwanted sources. It changes browser's default search engine, home page, new tab page and several other settings. Once installed, it steals sensitive user information and transfers those data to malicious third party. The users infected with this hijacker can experience Phishing attempts. It also installs other malware like adware or spyware in the computer. Uninstalling this malware is not easy. It changes system settings in such a way that computer starts showing several system errors after uninstallation. And as long as it is installed, it prevents any change of browser settings from the malicious one.
CoolWebSearch – It redirects users to its malicious homepage of CoolWebSearch search engine. The results of this search engine are mostly sponsored links. This hijacker can be uninstalled using a tool called CWShredder.
Coupon Server – This comes with many freeware applications in internet. This program can infect a computer without a user's knowledge. It forcibly redirects users to its homepage to fool users. It also directs browsers to suspicious domains and change other browser settings.
GoSave – This hijacker inserts unwanted adverts into webpages. It also adds plugins or extensions to whatever browser is default. This program is not necessarily named GoSave – it varies from GS Booster, GS Sustainer or something else.
istartsurf – This also comes bundled with other software from untrusted sources. It installs silently and replaces the preferred search tool.
Mixi.DJ – Mixi.DJ offers media player, but with this comes free toolbar and conduit based search engine. It changes the browser home page. It also adds itself to computer's registry, creates strings in memory and changes Internet Explorer's icon to magnifying glass.
MyStart.IncrediBar Search – It is much more dangerous than a hijacker. It is also a virus and spyware. The effect may be as simple as simple performance degradation to system crashes. Sometimes, the effects are so severe that the user is left with no other option than to uninstall the Operating System. You can recognize this program by installation of its MyStart search toolbar. Uninstallation of this malware is not easy. It changes system settings in such a malicious manner that removing this malware becomes a daunting task. But, there are a few applications like Spysweeper, Eset NOD32 and AdwCleaner which can remove this malware.
Onewebsearch – This is also a malware. It is often referred as onewebsearch virus and it changes browser settings upon installation.
RocketTab – This is also much serious than a mere hijacker. It redirects all http and https traffic through itself. It also creates problems for security applications.
Searchassist – It changes newtab home page to searchassist.net. If not uninstalled properly, it repeatedly changes browser settings. It slows down computer performance and causes the computer to restart frequently. It is also a spyware. It can be uninstalled with ADWCleaner, Spyhunter and MalwareBytes.
Search-daily.com - It slows down computer performance and redirects user's searches to pornographic sites.
Searchult.com – This is also a malware. It changes browser settings and displays unwanted adverts.
Searchgol.com – It changes browser's default search engine. And it downloads other malware in the computer. Removing this virus is not easy. Users need to perform browser restore after uninstallation.
Searchnu.com – It changes default search engine to search-results.com. If anything is searched in the search engine, the search will redirect the user to Ask.com and related websites. Uninstalling this hijacker is however easy.
Snap.do – It redirects the users to Snap.do search engine. But, it is not merely a hijacker. It is also a spyware. It also downloads other malicious programs like DVDVideoSoftTB, General Crawler and Save Valet. General Crawler is a backdoor and it reinstalls itself everytime a user tries to uninstall. It also steals sensitive user data.
SourceForge Installer – It changes the browser homepage to istartsurf.com. It changes registry settings and resets the browser settings if the user tries to change it.
Taplika – It is also a trojan and steals sensitive user data and sends them to malicious third party. It can encrypt personal data. The user may even lose personal data. It can also cause hardware damages.
TV Wizard – It changes browser settings and redirects DNS Not Found. It also changes security settings of browser and reduces overall security. It also tracks users and at uninstallation, only part of it is uninstalled.
Vosteran – This also comes with software installed from untrusted sources. It changes browser settings such as home page and default search engine.
So, beware of Browser Hijackers. Think twice before installing software from dubious sources. And be careful while selecting the add-ons while installing software. Update your computer with anti-malware programs. And stay safe, stay secured.