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Take Back Your Browser From Hijackers!

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 by | Filed Under: Security Help, Using The Internet
 
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In part 1 of this article, we looked at ways to prevent your browser from being hijacked and how you can tell if it’s already happened. Today, I’ll show you what to do if your browser has been taken over.

The most popular browser is Internet Explorer, so I will teach you how to get rid of these threats related to it first. Lower in this article you will find instructions to follow in case you use Chrome.

Open Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” in the upper right part of your browser, and then click again on Internet Options.

In the next window, go to “Security” tab and click “Custom level”.

Scroll down to “ActiveX Controls and plug-ins” and tick the boxes as instructed below.

DISABLE “Allow previously used ActiveX controls to run without prompt”.

DISABLE “Automatic Prompting for ActiveX controls”.

PROMPT “Download Signed ActiveX controls”.

PROMPT “Download Unsigned ActiveX controls”.

DISABLE “Initialize and script ActiveX controls not marked as safe for scripting”.

Enable “Run antimalware software on ActiveX controls”.

Select Security Level to HIGH.

Choose OK to save the settings and close the window.

Next, go to “Privacy” tab.

Change the setting to HIGH.

Check the “Turn on Pop-Up Blocker” option.

 After that, go to “Advanced” tab.

Scroll down to the option “Enable third-party browser extensions” and uncheck it.

Click “Apply” to save the settings and “OK” to close the window.

Uninstall unwanted applications.

a)    Press Windows key + R

b)    Type appwiz.cpl and hit Enter

 

c)    Uninstall any programs that you experienced problems after installing and make if you see something you don’t recognize, find out what it is. A simple Google search should do the trick. “What is…”

Any uninstalled software leaves so called “tracks” inside your computer. It’s important to delete them, too, therefore you have to deal with registry settings, so:

Press Windows key + R.

Type regedit and hit Enter.

Search for the name of the app that caused the issue.

Delete any registers associated with it.

I would also suggest searching for that keyword and deleting where ever it is found. To search press CTRL+F and type the keyword, then click ENTER.

 

If you are using Google Chrome.

Click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines.

In the drop down menu, select SETTINGS.

Now a new tab will open for the settings.

Find the “On startup” section and choose “Set Pages”.

Delete any website address that has been listed that you had not intended to look at.

Add your preferred startup page by adding the website address in “Add New Page” and click OK.

In “Appearance” section, under “Show Home Button”, clickon “Change” and delete search entry if it’s unknown site.

In “Search” section, Click “Manage search engines” and choose the preferred search engine.

Delete any other sites added by pressing the X button beside the address.

Click “Extensions” on the left pane.

Remove any unknown extensions by clicking on the recycle button beside it.

Close the “Settings” tab. Your preferences will be automatically saved. Restart Chrome.

After setting up Chrome behavior, follow the steps from 13 to 18 that I explained above.

Another way to have more control over any harmful entry is to deal with Hosts file.

  1. Click on Windows Key+R.
  2. Type the command: C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC\HOSTS and press ENTER key.

 3. When prompted, you need to open as a text file.

4. The only entry in normal HOSTS file is “127.0.0.1 localhost”. Your anti-virus software may have its entry added as well and you may choose to ignore such entries which are genuine, but delete the other entries.

5. Save the edited file by pressing CTRL+S.

 Finally, a piece of software I recommend and could help you to stay out of troubles. Adwcleaner is an application I have personally used and found it very useful.

You may download it and save it on the hard drive in case you might need it for future.

Recently I downloaded it from the web at https://toolslib.net/downloads/viewdownload/1-adwcleaner. Go there and get it, then install it. The installation process is very simple, I won’t talk about it here.

Once the application opens up, click Scan.

In the results, you notice it searches for any malicious software in Services, Folders, Files… which is pretty almost every location that could be infected. Once the scan is complete, you can choose all the locations and files or services you wish to clean.

After that, restart the computer. Hopefully you now have a nice, clean computer.

If you have other good suggestions or wish to ask some questions, feel free to comment.

~ Adrian

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5 Responses to “Take Back Your Browser From Hijackers!”

  1. Sharee Odegard says:

    I use Windows 7 Home Edition and just had a new hard drive installed by the lady who builds my computers for me. Downloaded Mozilla Firefox to use as my default browser while still having IE on the PC. I don’t go to a lot of sites but have noticed recently that I am getting a lot of popups from NitroAds and it is preventing me from really enjoying my internet experience as I usually do. I will take the steps you’ve listed to take care of Internet Explorer but how do I do that with Mozilla Firefox? Thank you.

    PS I forgot to tell you that I use PC Matic virus protection and have run 2 scans in the past 2 days…still have those annoying popups.

    • calinmusceleanu says:

      My advice would be to give up to Mozilla. Some time ago it was one of the best, but now it’s quite vulnerable to this kind of attacks. Try Chrome or Comodo Dragon instead. Even if you clean Mozilla once, later you will run into same problems.

  2. George Jackson says:

    I’m sure these tips are very helpful, but I use Firefox, which you didn’t mention. What should I do if it happens to me? Thank you in advance.

  3. Stephanie Staker says:

    Great article, Adrian. I want to mention that for those of us who like to watch TV on our computers, setting up the HOSTS file can lead to problems. I had that happen with CBS and NBC. I could no longer watch any videos at their sites. I would get a black screen. I had no idea what was wrong until my husband asked me what I had done lately. Sure enough, once I deleted the entries in the Hosts file, all was well again. Not fair, is it? :)

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