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Hijack Mania

Monday, November 6th, 2006 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms

What exactly is a hijack and are there different kinds that I should look out for when I’m using my computer?

That’s a wonderful question! I’m actually quite surprised that we’ve never gone over this in a tip before. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to do so. Like any virus or piece of spyware that invades your computer, a hijack is similar. They work in just a little different way though. So, let’s tackle this subject and continue to keep you and your computer safe!

Basically, a computer hijacker is any type of software that messes with your Web browser. They begin by resetting the preferences you have chosen and they then point that information to other Web sites. For example, a hijacker may work to reroute the information you have set in place, along with any Web address requests that you make. The hijacker will point that information to some sort of unseen site and with doing that, they are able to capture all of that material. If something like this happens, your Web browser may still work the same, but it will react much slower.

There are a couple of other types of hijacks as well, including search and homepage hijacks. A search hijacker will change all of the search settings you have chosen and a homepage hijacker will change your preferred homepage to a completely different site. I’m sure you’ve all had experience with a homepage hijack before, am I right? You choose a site to be your homepage and then the next time you open your browser, it has changed. How frustrating!

Hijacking has been known for awhile now, but it’s still pretty popular. It may not be as scary as a virus, but it still has its downfalls. If you ever get caught in a hijack, there are some pretty simple ways to fix them. See, what the hijackers are doing is messing with your registry keys. They go in and change certain settings so you’re unable to do what you intended to on your computer.

So, to fix the search hijack, open Internet Explorer and go to Tools, Options, Programs tab. You will see a listing of some of your Internet services. Look past those and in the bottom left hand corner, there is a button that says “Reset Web Settings.” Click that and the registry keys will be renewed. Click OK when you’re finished.

To fix the homepage problem, you have to disable some scripting within your browser. In Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Options, Security tab. Make sure the Internet icon is highlighted and click on the Custom Level button. Scroll down to the Scripting area and choose the Disable option under the “Active scripting” and “Scripting of Java applets” choices. Click OK twice.

That wasn’t too bad, was it?! Now you should be safe from any hijackers who may try and hit your computer. You can’t beat that!

~ Erin

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