Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

Browser Hijacks appear to be increasing at an alarming rate globally, and it can be a real nuisance, and at times dangerous too. In this post we will have a look at Browser Hijacking and how to prevent and remove Browser Hijacking in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera web browsers for Windows, natively or by using free Browser Hijacker Removal tools and software.

What is Browser Hijacking

browser hijacker Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

Browser hijacking occurs when you find that your web browsers settings have been changed without your permission. This could happen when you are installing new software, and during installation, your settings get changed; or it could occur if some malicious software takes control of your computer including the browser and changes its settings, without your knowledge.

Speaking specifically, when your browser is hijacked, the following could happen:

  1. Home page is changed
  2. Default search engine is changed
  3. You can’t navigate to certain web pages like home pages of security software
  4. You get re-directed to pages you never intended to visit
  5. You see ads or ad pops up on your screen. not served by the website
  6. You see new toolbars added
  7. You see new Bookmarks or Favorites added.
  8. Your web browser starts running sluggishly.

If you are facing any of these issues, your web browser may well have been hijacked!

Browser Hijacker

Before we see what is a Browser Hijacker, lets see what is a Browser Helper Object or BHO. These are basically small programs that are intended to enrich your browsing experience. BHO’s are Component Object Model (COM) components that Internet Explorer loads whenever it starts. These objects run in the same memory context as the browser. This means that every time you start Internet Explorer, the installed BHOs get loaded and run along with the browser. BHOs are also supported by File Explorer and may be loaded every time you start File Explorer.

Now if any BHO, extension, addon, toolbar or plugin gets installed on your browser with malicious intent, you could well label that piece of software as a Browser Hijacker.

If you wish, you can enable or disable BHO and Extensions via Internet Options in Internet Explorer, as shown below.

bho ie Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

Simply uncheck the option Enable third-party browser extensions.

Browser Hijack Prevention

  1. Install a good security software and turn-on the option to detect PUPs if your antivirus software so permits.
  2. Take care while installing any new software. Never click Next, Next, Next blindly.
  3. Opt-out of any third-party software.
  4. Never install plugins or extensions of doubtful credibility and uninstall the one’s you do not need.
  5. If you can, install a software that can keep a watch on your system in real-time – something like WinPatrol. This and other tools have been covered a bit more. at the end of this post.
  6. Harden your ActiveX settings. Open Internet Options > Security > Internet > Custom Level. In the ActiveX section, set Download signed ActiveX controls to Prompt, Download unsigned ActiveX controls to Disable and Initialize and Script ActiveX controls not marked as safe to Disable.

Browser Hijack Removal

1] You may open the Addons Manager of your browser and check all the installed addons, extensions and plugins. If you find anything suspicious, you may uninstall it.

2] If you find that its simply a case of your default search or home page having been hijacked, you may revert these settings back, via the browsers settings. But if it is more serious, like your links being redirected to other sites, being unable to open certain websites, etc, then maybe your Hosts file too could have been hijacked. You may need to reset your Hosts File.

3] Flushing your DNS Cache is also something we would like to recommend, if you find that your browser has been hijacked.

4] Check if any sites have already been added to your Trusted Sites Zone as shown below.

trusted sites ie Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

Read more on how to manage the Internet Explorer Security Zones.

5] You may also use the Reset browser settings tool of your web browser to reset all its settings to original defaults. This is a pretty powerful and useful tool to use, in case of browser hijacks. Read these links for more details:

6] Once you have done this, you may want to run CCleaner and then full-scan your computer using your antivirus software.

Browser Hijacker Remover Tools

browser hijacker removal tool Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

1] AdwCleaner is a good tool that scans your computer for PUPs and Browser Hijackers and helps remove them easily. Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUPs are often proposed during the installation of software. They may be present form of toolbars that could hijack your browser, especially if you have not downloaded them from safe software download sites. AdwCleaner is a portable tool and via this tool, you can also install Hosts Anti-PUP/Adware by clicking Tools and then Hosts Anti-PUP/Adware. It is a program that reduces the risk of installing Potentially Unwanted Programs and Browser Hijackers by blocking access to some websites.

2] WinPatrol is one useful freeware that will alert you whenever any change is made to your system.

Browser Hijacker WinPatrol 400x306 Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

It will also help you remove any malicious Browser Helper Objects in Internet Explorer via its IE Helpers tab. You need to however know which ones are malicious before you uninstall or remove them.

3] HitmanPro.Alert is a good Browser Intrusion Detection Tool. HitmanPro.Alert is a free browser integrity & intrusion detection tool that alerts users when online banking and financial transactions are no longer safe. It focuses on keeping your system safe from banking trojans.

hitman pro alert 1 400x362 Browser Hijacking and Free Browser Hijacker Removal Tools

HitmanPro.Alert will instantly detect over 99% of all known and new banking Trojans & Man-in-the-Browser malware and automatically inform users when critical system functions are diverted to untrusted programs.

4] To avoid the installation of these programs make sure that you enable detection of Potentially Unwanted Programs in your antivirus. If you need help in uninstalling toolbars, these free toolbar removal tools are sure to help you.

Additional reads:

  1. Malware Removal Guide & Tools for Beginners
  2. What is Rogue Software & how to check for, prevent or remove it?

We would love to hear your experiences. Have you ever experienced a browser hijack? What did you do to remove it? Any suggestions, you may want to give our other readers?

Posted by on , in Category Security with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • Kiran kumar

    Thanks for the info…nice article

  • arizona

    i feel that my browser is more secure after following this. lots of good tips i was able to use.

  • mc

    I just installed ADW cleaner and found a lot of “stuff” and got rid of it all!! Thanks for recommending that program.

  • UB

    One of the best ways to stop all this is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro in monitors all the time they also have a free version http://www.malwarebytes.org/

  • Alisa Kurtz

    one such item is browser protect(1 is an add on and other a trojan), had the trojan and didn’t add the add on(lost everything when I had to remove this from my laptop, I screen everything I have to download this includes updates to ccleaner on, since I don’t trust many software companies that add on crap to their software ccleaner always tries to download google chrome(crap browser(yes used it before and very slow)

  • Tom Tip

    Good advice.
    Before I installed Emsisoft Anti Malware w/ OnLine Armour I would be hit with hijackings and ransomware once in a while if I got careless with where I browsed. Now, all that activity has stopped no matter where I go. Their software is highly customizable. You do not need to turn it Off when installing software, but it will Stop the installation process until you “OK” the install. Set it to stop sites from tracking you unless you “OK” the tracking. Stopped a ransomware attack last night because I was careless, but OnLine Armour stopped it.

  • ub

    If you buy the pro version of ccleaner you will not get add on loaded …If your going to spend over $100 for windows 8.1 or even more with a new PC with it I would think $24.00 for CCleaner wouldn’t be to much to spend myself.

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