by Cate Eales
Appeared September 10, 2012 on castanet.net
I spent much of Labour Day weekend cleaning up after
some ugly malicious software, including some stuff that alters the
behaviour of Internet Explorer and Firefox. Let’s be careful out there!
Browser hijacks are as bad as they sound
When you open up your browser, what’s your home page? Some people like
Google, and we certainly hope you like Castanet.net to start your day.
You can have any page, any combination of pages --- or a blank page ---
when you start your browser or open a new tab.
What happens when you type something into the Search bar in your
browser? Do you go to Bing or Google? You can set up your browser’s
search engines to use as many or as few as you want.
Or sometimes … you can’t. A certain type of malicious software will
hijack your browser, taking over your home page, your new tabs, and
misdirecting your searches to questionable (best case) or horrible
(worst case) websites.
This is beyond annoying. This is dangerous. Your browser has been
hijacked. You don’t have control of where you’re going, and some of the
destinations can bring even more crap onto your computer.
MyWebSearch is well known for this behaviour, and malware removal forums
abound with people asking for help in removing the toolbar, changing the
search and home page and getting the rest of the junk out.
(click to enlarge graphic)
Babylon Search Page
Like MyWebSearch, Babylon doesn’t want to go quietly. It’s not
classified as malware, although it was at one time. But it sure acts
like malware. It hijacks your home page and your search engine. It puts
toolbars in your browsers. It changes the “new tab” behaviour.
If you find your browser with MyWebSearch or Babylon, or ANY unwanted
search engines, add-ins, or home pages and you can’t get things back to
normal, your computer has a problem. It’s most likely running pretty
slow, too. Malwarebytes
SuperAntiSpyware might fix it, but if that doesn’t work you need to
get some expert help.
You can minimize the chances of getting hijacked or otherwise infected
by following a few guidelines. Start by installing, configuring, and
running a good antivirus + antispyware program. I stand by my
recommendations in this column.
No matter which program you use, supplement its “always on” protection
with an on-demand scan using Malwarebytes or SuperAntiSpyware every week
or so. Keep your antivirus and antimalware programs up to date!
Use a browser add-on called Web of Trust, or if you have Avast!, use the
one that comes with that. These add-ons help identify potentially
dangerous websites. Install this add-on in every browser on your
computer. Learn more and
download it here.
Next, pay close attention to what you are installing and what comes
along with it. This is how toolbars and unwanted programs gain entry to
your computer in the first place. Choose “custom” instead of “express”
or “typical” when you install a new program. More about that in the
last item here.
Finally, slow down and think things over. Before you click on something
in an email, ask yourself if you were really expecting a package, if it
seems reasonable that you would be notified of an inheritance by email,
if a friend or relative would really be stranded overseas and need money
emailed to him. If you receive an email, even from a trusted email
address, does it look funny? Does the message seem out of character for
the purported sender? Don’t click on it!
It’s always something.
Even when we use common sense about clicking on things and have fully
protected our computers, sometimes we’re just outsmarted by the bad
guys. If you think or are sure something got past your defences, shut
down the computer before whatever it is has a chance to go deeper. Use
another computer to do your research, or call for help.
I welcome your comments and
questions. I can also visit your home or office to help you and your
computer get along. Call me at 250-764-7043, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
Computer Care Kelowna on
You can read previous columns here:
http://rlis.com/column.htm. If you'd like to subscribe to this
column by email, please visit this link:
http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618. It's easy, and free. If
you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here:
Is your antivirus program actually protecting your computer?
Web of Trust
Where did all this stuff come from?
Computer Care Kelowna
Getting Along With Your Computer Column Archives
Get Cate's column by email
Cate Eales 2012 – All Rights Reserved