A browser hijacker (sometimes called hijackware) is a type of malware program that alters the user's internet browser settings so that the user is redirected to websites that they had no intention of visiting. It may also contain a payload that downloads extra adware and/or spyware into the targetted machine. Most browser hijackers alter default homepages and search engines to those hosted by the company, as they generate revenue from traffic.
The more malicious browser hijackers often:
- Add bookmarks for bad Web sites to the users' own bookmark collection.
- Generate one or more pop-up windows whenever the user performs an action.
- Redirect users to bad sites when they inadvertently mistype a URL or enter a URL without the www. preface.
- Slow down the computer with unwanted processes.
- Crash the browser as a result of faulty programming.
Browser hijackers are notorious for their difficult removal. While some go away after uninstalling the extention created in the browser, most come back due to ingraining themselves into the browser, or in some cases even the computer itself.
In most scenarios, deleting all browsers and related files and reinstalling the browser gets rid of the hijackers. However, some browser hijackers require wiping the DNS cache and the removal of other suspicious programs and files.