Have you ever opened your browser to find a new homepage or unknown program on your toolbar? Chances are you are a victim of browser hijacking. It is also possible you may have fallen victim to a browser attack. This article offers you a fresh chance to mitigate one of the most notorious web-based attacks. 

Most browser hijacking begins as man-in-the-browser attacks. You may be reading this now and wondering “how do I know if my browser is hijacked?” This post not only highlights browser hijack examples but also how to prevent browser hijacking. To wade through your curiosity, we should begin by answering the question “What is browser hijacking?”




What is Browser Hijacking?

Browser Hijacking is a web-based attack that changes the default home page or search engine in your web browser. A browser hijacker is malicious actor that hooks the victim’s browser in order to execute malicious payloads. 

A hacker can hijack a victim’s browser using phishing links embedded with malicious Javascript. These scripts direct the victim 


Are Browser Hijackers Dangerous?

Compromised (hijacked) browsers pose a huge security risk due to the severity of this attack. Because so many computer users save important data in their browser like passwords, addresses, credit card information, history, and favorites, browsers present quite a juicy target.

The activity of a web hijacker doesn’t stop at taking hidden ownership of your browser. It goes ahead to modify your settings to do the following:

  • Upload pop-up ads that result in your software being compromised by downloading additional malware to your device or browser. 
  • Steal your information by attaching malware to your browser. This malware could steal sensitive data like user IDs, passwords, social security numbers, and so on.
  • Track your web activities and redirect your browsing sessions to malicious websites automatically. 
  • Initiate drive-by downloads that can download a bundle of data onto your computer without your knowledge.
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How Do I Know if my Browser is Hijacked?

 The general idea behind browser hijacking is to make it impossible to use your browser normally. Additionally, your computer or mobile phone is open to additional infections. Nevertheless, knowing what to look for makes it easier to detect hijackers. 



Annoying and unavoidable pop-ups

This is the most pervasive form of web hijacking. This man-in-the-browser attack makes your internet adventures a minefield for ads. They constantly bug you and follow you around, such that anywhere you click brings them up. These ads can also manifest as hyperlinks, inserted in search results and articles you surf.



Excess Storage and Memory Usage

Notice certain scenarios where you clear up your device storage of applications or files and then gets clogged again in less than a week? This may be a vital of a hijacked browser. Hijacking can lead to excess utilization of system resources due to the malware it installs. Another indicator is slow load times when starting up games, applications, videos, or music.

So, when you’re confronted with questions like “Why is my phone so slow?” you may need to run a test. This is because removing a compromised browser can free up space on your hard drive. This in turn speeds up your browser.



Spam

A hijacked browser might modify your default search engine to always spam you with ads. In other cases, it may redirect you to illegitimate sites. Constantly being redirected to sites you don’t know may lead you to domains infected with spyware and more adware.

Your browser may display a bizarre website after launch, like pornographic sites or one advertising ingenuine software. This may be proof your browser has been hijacked. If you see these indicators on your desktop however, this is a more serious issue; your system may have been infected with adware or other malware.

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How Do I prevent my Browser from Hijacking?

In this section, we’ll address steps you should follow to prevent browser hijacking. There are several things you can do to prevent this prevalent threat. Security starts with you and building good cyber hygiene will help protect your data and devices.



Keep your browser constantly updated

Browsers are some of the most fragile apps you can have on your computer. Being the first point of contact with the internet, they are exposed to very bad attacks.

In addition to that, their vulnerability stems from their being developed by humans. This means they are flawed by design. Due to this, updating your browser to the latest version offers you better perks with advanced security patches. 

Constantly monitoring your apps for updates can be a task. This is why browser update software can take that duty off your hands. Apps like Heimidal free automatically update your browser without bothering you with pop-ups or other annoying dialog boxes.

Also, be conscious of not saving your personal information on your browsers. This is because their vulnerability may be harnessed by malware programmers to exploit you. Also, try to avoid saving passwords in a browser. If your browser were to become hijacked, your data saved in the browser is at risk; opt to use a strong password manager extension instead. This is much safer for saving passwords.


Use Good Antivirus

Sometimes, the difference between an infected PC and a clean one is an antivirus tool. This is why you should put some thought into finding one that meets your needs and software requirements. They are an excellent security tool if you’re looking at preventing browser hijacking.

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Stay away from suspicious websites

The most vital key to safety on the internet is not installing software from untrusted sources. As an organization, a better practice is restricting admin rights on computers for employees. You can also set boundaries by limiting access to only data they need and use as well as blocking malicious domains from being accessed by users.


Don’t Click It!

One of the most common ways browser malware can spread is through a phishing email. Be sure to not click on any links or open/download any attachments from email or text senders you don’t recognize.





Conclusion

Browser hijackers are an annoying type of malware. Even though it isn’t as severe as ransomware or financial malware, it can devolve into serious software complications. This is especially true if they are left unchecked. Tips to prevent browser hijacking have been laid out in the section above. 

Still not sure if your browser is ridden with this malware? Take more time to observe the signs. Browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and iOS Safari are popular targets. This is because of the broad userbase. Operating one of these browsers? Install a good passwords manager and keep the browser updated!