How to Prevent Browser Hijacking

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of hijacked searches

Photo: Getty Images

What is Browser Hijacking?

Having your browser hijacked is basically just what it sounds like. Browser hijacking is when a software program created by either a malicious hacker, an unscrupulous advertiser, or other person interested in making money from an affiliate program, forcibly redirects your browser to a location that will likely produce some kind of monetary gain for the perpetrator (through increased traffic), while you receive no relevant results and are prevented from getting to your intended destination.

The software usually makes it onto your computer in one of two ways: Either a hacker tricks you into installing it via an email or a malicious link, or it's bundled with some legitimate software by a software developer who uses it as an additional source of revenue.

If you've ever had your web browser hijacked, then you know what a pain it can be to deal with the aftermath of removing the browser hijacking software and resetting your browser so that it doesn't go back to the sites that the hijacking software pointed to.

So How Can You Prevent Your Browser From Getting Hijacked:

1. Update Your OS and Your Browser Software

Ensuring that you have the latest and greatest version of your browser with all of the latest security patches applied, will help prevent many internet-borne attacks, especially the kind that exploit commonly unpatched vulnerabilities. Hackers are counting on you to be lazy and not patch your system.

Simply running a quick software update can help shut down these points of entry.

Browser makers are aware of the hijacking problem and may add new anti-hijacking features which is another reason to keep this software up to date.

2. Use an Security Conscious Alternate DNS Resolution Provider

Simply pointing your router's or computers DNS resolver to a non-ISP-provided server such as those mentioned in our article Improve Your Security By Using Alternative DNS Providers, may prevent the hijacking software from getting to its intended destination and it may also possibly prevent you from acquiring the hijacking malware in the first place.

Check out the link above and learn the other many benefits of using Alternative DNS.

3. Use Your Antivirus Software's "Realtime Protection" Feature

Some antivirus software offers a real-time protection feature that watches for attempts to change key configuration files, such as those associated with your browser. The software may alert you if something you're installing attempts to modify your browser settings. It may also offer you the opportunity to prevent the changing of these settings

You should also make sure that your antimalware definition files are up to date, and you might want to consider adding a Second Opinion Scanner to add a second line of defense to your anti-malware protection detail.

4. Read The Fine Print Before You Install Any Software You Downloaded From The Internet and Opt Out of Bundled Extras (if allowed)

As mentioned earlier,  some browser hijacking software may come bundled with the legitimate software. That's why it's important to read all the fine print about what you might be installing with the software you are downloading. Some companies will allow you to opt out of installing the bundled utilities that aren't needed for the software you are downloading to function.

Some of the nicer makers of software that hijacks your browser will allow you to remove the software after it has been installed, but it has been my experience that most hijacking software does not want to leave your system quietly, even after you uninstall it, it may not undo the changes it made to your browser settings, which basically leaves your browser hijacked until you manually intervene by resetting your browser to its pre-hijacked default settings.