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Technology: Help! My Browser’s Been Hijacked

What's New in Technology

October 2006

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Technology: Help! My Browser’s Been Hijacked

Malware is everywhere. If a malicious program, or malware, attacks your system and begins to direct your web activity - changing your default home page, directing you to sites where you don’t want to go - it is likely that your browser has been hijacked.
Before figuring out what to do, take a quick look at the following to see if a hijacker is most likely to blame for your problems:

    • If your default home page or your search engine has been changed, a hijacker may be to blame. First rule out interference from another user. Make sure someone using your PC hasn’t made the switch. If you are an Internet Explorer user, try Internet Options to change your options back, using the Tools Menu. If this doesn’t work, odds are a hijacker rather than a co-worker has changed your settings;

 

    • If you’re seeing a lot more pop-ups and/or pop ups from sites you normally
      do not visit;

 

    • If suddenly you are seeing bookmarks or pop-ups for pornographic or obscene material;

 

    • If sites you don’t know start appearing in your "favorites" menu;

 

    • If you start getting re-directed to sites you never tried to visit; or

 

  • If you can’t access sites you want to reach.

Solutions
There are some steps you can take to boot the hijackers out - even if you are not especially technologically savvy.

    1. Invest in a proven program that identifies and sweeps hijackers out. You’ve got several good choices at reasonable cost available, including: Ad-Aware from www.lavasoftusa.com and SpySweeper from www.spysweeper.com. A free program is also available for downloading from www.safer-networking.org and other sources offer free software, too. Once you’ve installed them, make sure you run them frequently.

 

    1. If you think several malware programs have infiltrated your system, you might want to start with a clean slate. If so, download and install a new Host file for your system (this is the portal where hijackers make changes to the file that acts like an address book for URLs to gain access to your system). You can install a new Hosts file by reaching www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm. This file will provide many new additions to block known hijackers.

 

  1. If a hijacker has changed your settings, and you can’t reverse the changes through the Tools program, you can address the problem through your Registry. A word of caution, before editing Registry entries, back up your system. If you open the Registry, look for an entry "inetcple.cpl" listed in HKEY_Current_UserControlPaneldon’t load. If you find this entry, you should delete it and restart your entire system. Again, editing the Registry needs caution-always back up your system first and get technical help if you are uncertain of your next steps.

Once you’ve cleaned up your system, remember that prevention is a whole lot easier and less expensive than any cure. Keep your anti-virus software protection renewed and updated. Set your system so that you receive all high-priority Internet Explorer updates from Microsoft automatically - that way you’ll get the protection of updated security patches as soon as they are available. Encourage your employees, or associates, to be vigilant and to report a rapid increase in pop-ups or unusual activity involving unfamiliar Web pages.

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These articles are intended to provide general resources for the tax and accounting needs of small businesses and individuals. Service2Client LLC is the author, but is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, financial or professional advice. Service2Client LLC makes no representation that the recommendations of Service2Client LLC will achieve any result. The NSAD has not reviewed any of the Service2Client LLC content. Readers are encouraged to contact their CPA regarding the topics in these articles.

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