Is your browser acting strange lately? Are you constantly being redirected to suspicious websites or bombarded with unwanted pop-up ads? You might be a victim of a browser hijacking attack. This invasive cyber-attack aims to take control of your browser, altering its settings and redirecting you to potentially harmful sites. But fear not, there are steps you can take to recover from this pesky attack and restore control over your browsing experience.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of recovering from browser hijacking attacks. We’ll start by explaining what browser hijacking is and how it happens, before diving into effective methods for detection and removal. From resetting your browser settings to utilizing trustworthy anti-malware software, we’ll provide you with strategies to combat and recover from these intrusive attacks.
Don’t let browser hijacking rob you of a safe and seamless browsing experience. Stay tuned for our expert advice on how to recover and protect your precious online journey.
Understanding Browser Hijacking Attacks
Browser hijacking attacks are a type of cyber-attack where an attacker gains control over your browser and manipulates its settings for their own malicious purposes. These attacks can happen through various means, such as visiting infected websites, downloading malicious files, or clicking on deceptive ads. Once your browser is hijacked, the attacker can redirect your searches, change your homepage, insert unwanted toolbars, and even track your online activities.
The motives behind browser hijacking attacks can vary. Some attackers may aim to generate revenue by redirecting you to websites that pay them for traffic. Others may try to steal your personal information, such as login credentials or financial data. Regardless of the intentions, browser hijacking attacks are a serious threat to your online security and privacy.
To protect yourself, it’s essential to understand the signs of a browser hijacking attack and take immediate action if you suspect your browser has been compromised.
Signs of a Browser Hijacking Attack
Detecting a browser hijacking attack early on is crucial for minimizing the damage and recovering your browser’s control. Here are some common signs that may indicate your browser has been hijacked:
- Unauthorized browser changes: If you notice sudden changes in your browser settings, such as a new homepage or search engine that you didn’t set, it’s a strong indication of a hijacking attack.
- Frequent redirects: Constantly being redirected to unfamiliar websites, especially when performing searches or clicking on links, is a telltale sign of a browser hijacking attack.
- Unwanted pop-up ads: Excessive pop-up ads appearing on websites where they didn’t appear before can be a red flag. These ads are often used to generate revenue for the attackers.
- Slow browser performance: If your browser suddenly becomes sluggish and takes longer to load pages, it could be due to the presence of malicious extensions or toolbars installed by the hijacker.
- Unusual toolbar additions: If you notice new toolbars or extensions that you didn’t install appearing in your browser, it’s a clear indication of a hijacking attack.
If you experience any of these signs, it’s essential to take immediate action to prevent further damage and regain control over your browser.
Steps to Take Immediately After Browser Hijack
Recovering from a browser hijacking attack requires a systematic approach to ensure all traces of the hijacker are removed and your browser is restored to its secure state. Here are the steps you should take immediately after detecting a hijacking attack:
Step 1: Disconnect from the internet: The first step is to disconnect your device from the internet to prevent the hijacker from accessing your system and causing further harm.
Step 2: Identify the source: Try to recall any recent activities that could have led to the hijacking attack. Did you visit suspicious websites, download files from untrusted sources, or interact with deceptive ads? Understanding the source can help prevent future attacks.
Step 3: Scan for malware: Run a comprehensive scan using reputable anti-malware software to detect and remove any malicious files or programs that may be responsible for the hijacking attack. Ensure your antivirus software is up to date for effective detection.
Step 4: Remove suspicious extensions and toolbars: Open your browser’s settings and navigate to the extensions or add-ons section. Remove any unfamiliar or suspicious extensions or toolbars that may have been installed without your consent.
Accessing Chrome Extensions Panel
To access your Google Chrome extensions panel, click on the three-dotted menu located at the top right corner of your browser. From the drop-down menu, look for "Extensions," then click on "Extensions." This will open a new tab, presenting all the extensions that are currently installed in your browser.
Removing Unnecessary Chrome Extensions
In the extensions panel, you'll see a list of all the extensions installed in your Chrome browser. Each extension has its own box containing the extension's name, icon, and description. Deactivate an extension by toggling the slider off. To permanently remove an extension, simply click "Remove."
Accessing Firefox Add-Ons Manager
To embark on the removal of extensions from Firefox, you need to access the Add-Ons Manager. Start by opening your Firefox browser. Then, from the top-right corner of your window, click on the menu icon (three horizontal lines). Once this menu opens, locate the option named "Add-ons and Themes" and click on it. This will open the Add-Ons Manager in a new tab.
Identifying Firefox Extensions for Removal
The Add-Ons Manager should have a menu on the left of the page which has "Extensions" listed amongst other options. Click on "Extensions". Here, you will find a list of the extensions that are currently installed on your Firefox browser.
Disabling or Removing Extensions on Firefox
On each listed extension, you will find three options- "Disable", "Remove", and "Options". If you would like to stop using the extension but would wish to keep it for potential future use, click on "Disable". This will temporarily switch off the extension until you decide to reactivate it.
If you are certain you would no longer need the extension, click on "Remove". A pop-up will be displayed asking you for confirmation that you want to proceed with the removal. Click on "Remove" again on the pop-up. This will permanently erase the extension from your Firefox browser.
Accessing Extension Settings in Microsoft Edge
To access the extension settings on your Microsoft Edge browser, follow these steps:
- Open the Microsoft Edge browser on your computer.
- Click on the three horizontal dots or "More" icon located at the top right corner of the browser.
- From the dropdown list, choose "Extensions."
Disabling Extensions in Microsoft Edge
After accessing the Extensions page, here is how you can disable extensions:
- Find the Extension you wish to disable from the list that appears.
- Uncheck or flick the switch to the off position for the extension you want to disable. The extension will go gray, which means it has been disabled.
Removing Extensions from Microsoft Edge
If you want to remove an extension permanently from the Microsoft Edge browser, follow these steps:
- Go back to the Extensions page following the steps mentioned in the first heading.
- Find the Extension you wish to remove from the list.
- Click on the 'Remove' button under the extension that you wish to remove permanently.
- A confirmation box will pop up asking if you're sure about removing the extension. Click on 'Remove' again to confirm.
The extension will now be permanently removed from your Microsoft Edge browser. If you wish to reinstall this extension, you will have to follow the process of downloading and installing it again.
Locating Extensions Tab in Safari's Preferences
To locate the Extensions tab in Safari's preferences, first, open the Safari browser. Once the browser is up and running, navigate to the menu bar at the top of the Mac's screen. From there, select 'Safari' and then click on 'Preferences'. In the Preferences window that pops up, you'll find different setting options. Click on 'Extensions', which will show a list of all installed extensions.
Disabling or Removing Extensions in Safari
The Extensions tab not only displays all the extensions that are currently installed but also offers you options to manage these extensions. Each extension is listed with a checkbox next to it. To disable an extension without fully removing it, just uncheck the box next to the extension's name. This will turn off the extension but keep it installed in case you want to use it later. If you decide you want to completely remove an extension, highlight the extension you want to get rid of and click the 'Uninstall' button. Confirm your decision in the resulting dialogue box, and the browser extension is as good as gone.
Step 5: Clear browser cache and cookies: Clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can help remove any saved data that the hijacker may have used to track your online activities. Consult your browser’s documentation for instructions on how to clear cache and cookies.
Clearing browser history in Google Chrome
Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers, known for its speed, convenience, and robust features. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clear your browser history in Google Chrome:
Step 1: Open Google Chrome and click on the three-dot menu icon located in the top-right corner of the browser window.
Step 2: From the drop-down menu, select "History" and then click on "History" again in the submenu that appears.
Step 3: You will now see a list of websites you have visited. On the left side of the page, click on "Clear browsing data."
Step 4: A dialog box will appear with various options. Choose the time range for which you want to clear your browsing history. If you want to clear everything, select "All time."
Step 5: Select the types of data you want to delete. This includes browsing history, cookies, cached images and files, and more.
Step 6: Click on the "Clear data" button, and Chrome will begin clearing your browsing history. Once the process is complete, you will receive a confirmation message.
Clearing browser history in Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is another popular web browser known for its strong privacy features and customizable interface. To clear your browser history in Mozilla Firefox, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open Mozilla Firefox and click on the three-line menu icon located in the top-right corner of the browser window.
Step 2: From the drop-down menu, select "Settings." This will open a new tab with Firefox's settings.
Step 3: In the left sidebar, click on "Privacy & Security."
Step 4: Scroll down to the "Cookies and Site Data" section and click on the "Clear Data" button.
Step 5: A dialog box will appear with options for clearing your data. Make sure the "Cookies and Site Data" and "Browsing History" options are selected.
Step 6: You can also choose to clear other types of data such as cached web content or offline website data.
Step 7: Click on the "Clear" button, and Firefox will begin clearing your browsing history. Once the process is complete, you will receive a confirmation message.
Clearing browser history in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is the default web browser for Windows 10, offering a clean and intuitive user interface. Here's how you can clear your browser history in Microsoft Edge:
Step 1: Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three-dot menu icon located in the top-right corner of the browser window.
Step 2: From the drop-down menu, select "Settings."
Step 3: In the left sidebar, click on "Privacy, search, and services."
Step 4: Scroll down to the "Clear browsing data" section and click on the "Choose what to clear" button.
Step 5: You will see a list of options for clearing your browsing data. Make sure the "Browsing history" option is selected.
Step 6: You can also choose to clear other types of data such as cookies and saved website data, cached data and files, and more.
Step 7: Click on the "Clear" button, and Microsoft Edge will begin clearing your browsing history. Once the process is complete, you will receive a confirmation message.
Clearing browser history in Safari
Safari is the default web browser for Apple devices, offering a seamless browsing experience. To clear your browser history in Safari, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open Safari and click on the "History" tab located in the top menu bar.
Step 2: From the drop-down menu, select "Clear History."
Step 3: A dialog box will appear with options for clearing your browsing history. Choose the time range for which you want to clear your history.
Step 4: You can also choose to clear other types of data such as cookies, cached files, and website data.
Step 5: Click on the "Clear History" button, and Safari will begin clearing your browsing history. Once the process is complete, you will receive a confirmation message.
Google Chrome on Android
Step 1: Open the Google Chrome app on your Android device.
Step 2: Tap on the three-dot menu icon located in the top-right corner of the browser window.
Step 3: From the drop-down menu, select "History."
Step 4: Tap on the "Clear browsing data" button at the top of the screen.
Step 5: Choose the types of data you want to delete, such as browsing history, cookies, and cached images and files.
Step 6: Select the time range for which you want to clear your data, or choose "All time" to clear everything.
Tap on the "Clear data" button, and Chrome will begin clearing your browsing history.
Safari on iOS
Step 1: Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
Step 2: Scroll down and tap on "Safari."
Step 3: In the Safari settings, scroll down and tap on "Clear History and Website Data."
Step 4: A confirmation prompt will appear. Tap on "Clear History and Data" to proceed.
Step 5: Safari will begin clearing your browsing history and data.
Step 6: Change passwords and security settings: As a precautionary measure, change the passwords for your online accounts, especially those related to banking, email, and social media. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.
Step 7: Restore browser settings to default: To ensure the complete removal of any lingering traces of the hijacker, restore your browser settings to their default state. This will remove any unauthorized changes made by the hijacker.
Step 1: Launch Google Chrome on your Windows computer.
Step 2: Click on the three vertical dots (menu icon) in the top-right corner of the Chrome window.
Step 3: From the dropdown menu, select "Settings."
Step 4: Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page and click on "Reset Settings" to reveal additional options.
Step 5: Under the "Reset Settings" section, click on "Restore settings to their original defaults."
Step 6: A confirmation dialog will appear. Click "Reset settings" to confirm and reset Chrome.
Step 1: Launch Firefox on your Windows.
Step 2: Click on the three horizontal lines in top-right corner, and click on “Help”.
Step 3: From the “Help” menu, click on the option labelled as “More troubleshooting information”.
Step 4: Previous step will open a new window. Click on “Refresh Firefox” button.
Step 5: The Firefox will ask you to confirm your action. Just click on “Refresh Firefox” again.
Step 6: Finally, click on “Finish”.
Step 1: Launch Edge and click on the three horizontal lines in top-right corner.
Step 2: Scroll down and click on “Settings”.
Step 3: On the Settings page, click on “Reset settings” in the left pane.
Step 4: Under Reset settings page, click on “Restore settings to their default values”.
Step 5: The Edge will ask you to confirm your action. Just click on “Reset” button.
Resetting Safari on a Mac involves diverse steps like clearing the browsing history, emptying the cache, and removing extensions and cookies.
Clearing Browsing History in Safari
To clear your browsing history in Safari, click on "History" in the top menu, then select "Clear History." A dropdown menu will appear where you can select the length of history you want to clear - "the last hour," "today," "today and yesterday," or "all history." Choose the option that suits your requirement and click "Clear History."
Emptying Safari’s Cache
The cache is a place where Safari stores website data to speed up the loading process. Over time, the cache can become bloated and may slow down Safari. To clear it, click on the "Safari" in the top menu, then select "Preferences." From there, go to the "Advanced" tab and select "Show Develop menu in menu bar." Close the "Preferences" window, and in the top menu, you'll find a new "Develop" option. Clicking on it will give you the option to "Empty Caches."
Removing Cookies in Safari
Removing cookies can be done through the "Preferences" menu in Safari. Click on "Safari" then "Preferences," then go to the "Privacy" tab. You can either "Manage Website Data" to remove cookies from specific sites, or click "Remove All Website Data" to remove all cookies.
Removing Extensions in Safari
Extensions are small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the Safari browser. But sometimes, they might cause issues. To remove them, click on "Safari" in the top menu, then "Preferences". Go to the "Extensions" tab, where you'll see the list of installed extensions. Select the extensions you want to remove and click on the "Uninstall" button.
Access Internet Explorer Settings
Click on Internet Explorer to open the application on your computer. After opening Internet Explorer, locate the "Tools" icon. This icon typically looks like a small gear in the upper-right corner of the Internet Explorer window. Once you've clicked on this, a dropdown menu will appear. From this menu, select "Internet Options."
Understand the Implications of Resetting
Before resetting, understand what it means to reset Internet Explorer to factory defaults. By doing so, you're erasing any personal settings, extensions, or cookies you've set up since you've installed the software. This includes deleting your browsing history, disabling toolbars and add-ons, and resetting all custom settings to default. If you have any important bookmarks or saved passwords, make sure to back them up first.
Navigate to the Reset Option
In the "Internet Options" window, click on the "Advanced" tab. At the bottom of this tab, you should see a "Reset..." button. Click on this to open up the "Reset Internet Explorer Settings" window.
Execute the Reset
After the "Reset Internet Explorer Settings" window opens, you'll see a box that you can check to "Delete personal settings." If you want to erase all personal data saved in Internet Explorer, including saved passwords, form data, and browsing history, check this box. If you'd rather keep your personal data and only reset the browser settings to default, leave this box unchecked. Once you've decided what you want to do, click the "Reset" button at the bottom. A confirmation window will appear to assure you that the reset was successful.
Verify the Successful Reset
After you click "Reset", Internet Explorer will apply the changes and ask you to restart the software. Close Internet Explorer and open it again. The changes have now taken effect and your software has been reset to factory settings. To confirm the reset, navigate back to the "Tools" menu, select "Internet Options", and click on the "Advanced" tab. At the bottom of this window, you should see that your personal settings have either been erased or reset, depending on your previous selection. If executed correctly, Internet Explorer should now operate just as it did when you originally installed it.
Resetting Opera on Windows
Step 1: Open the Opera browser on your Windows system.
Step 2: On the top left corner, click on the Opera logo. It will open a dropdown menu.
Step 3: From the dropdown menu, choose "Settings." Alternatively, you can press Alt + P on your keyboard to directly open the settings.
Step 4: On the left side of the settings page, click on "Advanced" to extend the menu.
Step 5: Click on "Browser" present under the "Advanced" category.
Step 6: Scroll down towards the end of the page until you spot "Reset settings."
Step 7: Click on the "Restore settings to their original defaults" option.
Step 8: A warning pop-up will appear, warning you about the changes that will happen on resetting the browser. If you are okay with proceeding, click on "Reset."
Resetting Opera on Mac
Step 1: Open the Opera browser on your Mac system.
Setp 2: Click on "Opera" present at the top left corner of your Mac's screen in the menu bar.
Step 3: A dropdown menu will appear. Choose "Preferences" from the given options.
Step 4: On the Preferences page, click on "Advanced" from the panel located on the left side.
Step 5: Click on "Browser" present under the "Advanced" category.
Step 6: Now, scroll down and navigate to "Reset settings."
Step 7: Click on "Restore settings to their original defaults."
Step 8: You will receive a warning pop-up, explaining what happens when you reset the settings. If you are ready to continue, click on "Reset."
By following these steps, you can effectively recover from a browser hijacking attack and regain control over your browser. However, prevention is always better than cure. Let’s explore some preventive measures to avoid future hijacking attacks.
Preventing Future Browser Hijacking Attacks
While recovering from a browser hijacking attack is essential, taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of future attacks. Here are some strategies to protect your browser from hijackers:
- Keep your browser and software up to date: Regularly update your browser and other software installed on your device. Updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities exploited by hijackers.
- Exercise caution when downloading files: Only download files from trusted sources. Be wary of downloading files from unknown websites or clicking on suspicious download links.
- Be cautious of clicking on ads: Avoid clicking on ads that appear suspicious or seem too good to be true. These ads may lead you to infected websites or initiate unwanted downloads.
- Install reputable security software: Invest in a reputable anti-malware and antivirus software. These programs can help detect and block potential hijacking attacks.
- Enable browser security features: Most modern browsers offer security features, such as phishing protection and safe browsing mode. Enable these features to add an extra layer of defense against hijackers.
- Educate yourself about online threats: Stay informed about the latest online threats and best practices for online security. Educate yourself on how to spot phishing attempts and other common tactics used by hijackers.
By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of browser hijacking attacks and enjoy a safer browsing experience.
Browser hijacking attacks can be frustrating and potentially harmful to your online security and privacy. However, with the right knowledge and proactive approach, you can recover from these attacks and protect yourself from future threats. By following the steps outlined in this article, such as detecting the signs of a hijacking attack, taking immediate action, and implementing preventive measures, you can regain control over your browser and enjoy a safe and seamless browsing experience.
Don’t let hijackers rob you of your online journey. Take charge of your browser’s security, and browse with confidence knowing that you are well-equipped to recover from and prevent browser hijacking attacks. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe in the vast digital landscape.
Nishant Verma is a senior web developer who love to share his knowledge about Linux, SysAdmin, and more other web handlers. Currently, he loves to write as content contributor for ServoNode and also collaborated with MRLabs now.