Malware Primer: Browser Hijackers & Adware & Spyware. Oh My!

Welcome back for another installment in our series on Malware 101. This time, we’ll get delve into the devious realm of browser hijackers and adware.

hijack1

Not all surprises are nice. Like when you type in one destination online, and find yourself on another site you really don’t want. And try as you might, you just keep landing back at that site. Sorry but you’ve just been hijacked by your browser. More accurately, by the hacker who has used malware to take control of your browser, and your surfing.

Browser hijacks are performed by malicious software that redirects your browser – Exploer, Google, Firefox, Safari – to a specific site.  This site can then be used to download malware onto your computer, without you realizing it. It’s known as a “drive-by download”, quick and dirty.

It gets worse. You know those bundled offers you get, or combos, whether you want them or not? Well, you’ve not only been hijacked, but you have likely been loaded up with a bunch of malware to take back. Your screen will soon fill with annoying pop-ups; your computer will seem sluggish; strange things will happen to your files. A lot of this is adware, often bundled with browser hijackers. And all courtesy of something you clicked on.

adware

While the adware is annoying, the spyware it carries is more malicious. This stuff hides on your computer, where it tracks and monitors everything you do. Yes that email, tweet, ridiculous comment, all have been recorded and sent elsewhere. Worse, your personal details, banking information and sign on credentials have also been captured for sale and use by somebody you really don’t want to know.

Think of this stuff as tech VD, because cleaning up a nasty infestation reveals it to be a gift that keeps on giving. It’s hard to detect initially. Once you do catch on, the malware has proliferated and spread through your computer. You’ll likely need professional assistance to do a really good clean up job. Unless you have the patience and expertise to follow all the steps and use several different programs to unearth and remove all the malicious files.  It is doable, but you need to be diligent because you need to find and remove all of it. Otherwise, you’ll get reinfected.

Remember – You Own Your Own Security.  Take charge!

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