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A browser hijacker is spy or malware, commonly available as a Web browser add-on, that changes a Web user's browser settings in order to change the default home, error or search page. It may redirect the user to unwanted websites while capturing sensitive private data for personal or business gain.
When a browser hijacker is not removed, the infected Web browser may default to the malware browser settings after every reboot, even if the settings are manually readjusted.
Browser hijackers generate profit and traffic to websites that capture personal computer data or install key loggers, malware or adware to steal sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords.
Methods of infection:
A typical parasite can severely complicate a user’s work and decrease productivity. Negative effects can include the following:
Browser hijackers may also attack the system and installed applications. These parasites can trigger browser instability problems, repeated errors and general performance problems.
Preventative tools include vigilance and common sense. For example, never click pop-up ads from an unknown or untrusted website when installing extensions, such as Google Toolbar. If a software application requests approval prior to download, carefully review product terms and conditions to avert blind browser hijacking.
Merijn Bellekom developed the CWShredder hijacker removal tool to combat CoolWebSearch (CWS), one of the first browser hijackers to direct Web user traffic to search engine results with multiple forms of adware. At that time, antivirus, adware and anti-malware programs lacked hijacker removal capabilities.