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What can I do to prevent my browser from being hijacked?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 1, 2013 9:56 AM PDT

What can I do to prevent my browser from being hijacked?

I was recently reading the CNET community newsletter about the member who recently had their browser hijacked by some supposed tool bar and it looks like that person had no idea the tool bar was installed. I skimmed through some of the answers and it looked like a whole lot of trouble to remove the possible problem. I'm not a technical person, and I'll be literally damned if I were to be plagued by one of those tool bars in my system. While I don't think I have been infected by one of those, how does one know or prevent themselves from getting in that situation in the first place? How do these nasty tool bars just install on to your system without you knowing? Can they be installed on your system just by visiting a bad Web site? I remember reading about them sometimes being packaged with programs that are downloaded and installed on your system; how does that happen? The bottom line is I want to know what can I proactively do to prevent this from happening to me. Thank you for your help.

--Submitted by: Travis C.
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by Dafydd Forum moderator / November 1, 2013 10:01 AM PDT

...piggy backed on a legit download. Always look out for pre checked boxes.


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Comodo Free Firewall...
by JCitizen / November 1, 2013 2:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Usually..

also has a very good secure DNS service and also does page blocking to known malicious sites. I also use Comodo Dragon browser, that can do the same without installing the firewall.

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by catlady9tails / November 8, 2013 9:25 AM PST

yes I have used comodo for over 3 years and no problems as yet, I have the firewall & virus comodo

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Also for the really pesky ones...
by JCitizen / November 8, 2013 6:04 PM PST
In reply to: comodo

that get into your browser or other applications, bleepingcomputer.com has a tool called AdwCleaner that does a bang up job blasting these PUPs to pieces!! Don't let the Author's site - Foolish IT take you aback, they are very legitimate.

I recommend downloading it in safe mode with networking enabled though - the really nasty PUPs have become wise to the URL for bleepingcomputer.com with AdwCleaner for download, and they will attack by slipstreaming even more adware in an attempt to obfuscate your attempts at getting rid of them, and to make new clients to the site think they are coming from this venerable web site. These are just lame attempts at a smear champagne, and won't happen in safe mode.

AdwCleaner runs well in safemode and doesn't even need to install, as it is fully portable. If you are running in normal mode, and you see installers running what are obviously additional installations, then it is time to leave normal mode and boot to safe mode to complete this task.

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bleepingcomputer.com jcitizen
by catlady9tails / November 10, 2013 8:38 AM PST

thank you I will make a note of that download, i am 86 and try to be very careful what i down load
thanks again

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Use custom installation
by reli37 / November 8, 2013 10:08 AM PST
In reply to: Usually..

One way to avoid the piggy back add-ons is to always install using the custom installation option if offered. Then as you go through the initial steps you have the option to turn down, or refuse the add-ons.

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Use custom installation
by dorrposter / November 8, 2013 12:22 PM PST

I totally agree. It pays to ALWAYS use custom installation. It's not 100% effective, as some malware ignores the custom options, but if that happens, look in Chrome's extensions to see if it's there. If it is, turn it off and uninstall it. I don't know what Firefox or IE has to do this, but you're smart - you'll find it! Also, check Windows Uninstall to see if there's something there you don't recognize.

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totally agree on custom install
by ftballtw / November 9, 2013 1:07 AM PST

I was having problems for two days with new tabs opening and links on a number of words on every web page and they were all "site advisor.com" and I tried eveything to get rid of it even uninstalling firefox and reinstalling. The thing was still there! I finally had avast advise me to the browser extension of iobit and offered to disable it for me. I did and lo and behold that was the culprit! It is now gone! My brother had his home page hijacked over and over and come to find out, it was the same browser extension from iobit! If this happens to you, just go to your addons and disable the extension and it will stop. This forum had some good ideas . Mine just happened to me from a program I have always trusted. Even when installing iobit, you have to hit "decline" on the toolbar window. That is also a problem.

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One more note
by ftballtw / November 12, 2013 11:33 AM PST

This only happened when I had the upgraded paid version of IOBIT Advanced System Care. So I did not really feel like they should try to monetize it on me since I paid for the program! I still like the program but will most likley not renew and just go with the free one. It is a really quick fix for a sluggish computer. About 1/2 hour at the most and it will get updates , close security holes, clean junk from registry, your computer and even defragment. You check all items and check the "repair all" and it will complete for you. You should also hit the little menu icon on the top left and uncheck these 3 things: "start at windows startup", "mininmize to system tray when closed" and "show performance monitor" and then it does not slow you down any. I really do recommend the program. free one is fine!

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Removing unwanted apps with "regedit" command.
by JayVeeCee / November 9, 2013 1:27 PM PST

Learn and understand "regedit" command. (Type "regedit" while on metro window.)
I find it effective as I could remove any unwanted file in the "registry".
But mind you, understand the consequences, if a file was removed accidentally.

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Watch out!
by 4Denise / November 9, 2013 4:30 PM PST

Yes, you can clean up your computer using the registry editor-- IF you know what you are doing! Making the wrong changes to the registry can wipe out your system. This is not good advice for someone who is admittedly not technically oriented and does not yet have the experience to work with the registry. It is worth learning, though, and once the proper precautions have been taken it is very effective.

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Similar Problem
by meredit / November 1, 2013 11:42 AM PDT

Hi Travis,

Had the same problem recently- Sweet toolbar and another one during a two-week period. They each changed my default search in FF, Chrome, & IE to their own. Ran all malware and virus products installed with no results. After several hrs. of online research installed Spybot, Malwarebytes, and RegSeeker, scanning every day (like I have time!) but the evil programs returned. Called McAffee (ATT provides free coverage for DSL/UVerse subscribers); they wanted $150 to check it out. Uh, no thanks. Finally (there is a benefit to being stubborn) I reset FF again (recommended in one article- a first attempt hadn't worked). Voila, finally the Sweet toolbar was gone. When the other one appeared very shortly after that I repeated the process (scanned with every tool, then reset FF, Chrome, and IE again). So far, so good. Scan periodically just in case but the problem seems to be gone for now. The solution was a hybrid of information from several sources, none of which was very helpful individually. Hope you don't encounter this annoying problem.

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Iobit Uninstaller has an option to uninstall toolbars
by ronc2 / November 1, 2013 1:02 PM PDT
In reply to: Similar Problem

and it's the only uninstall application I've come across that includes toolbar removal. The uninstaller used to be offered as a freestanding application, but lately it seems to be integrated into Iobit's Advanced System Care. You might find the standalone at Major Geeks or Filehippo, possibly Cnet, or just search the web for it. I've removed many an unwanted toolbar with it, I'm just sorry it doesn't come as a standalone anymore (at least not that I know of), but Advanced System Care is a useful suite of cleaners and optimizers. I use it in addition to Ccleaner and Glary Utilities for routine periodic clean up, and am never bothered with unwanted toolbars. Of course as others here have pointed out, the best protection is to Pay Attention when installing new software, don't just rush through, look for any checkboxes offering to install additions you may not (and most likely don't) want.

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good uninstaller
by catlady9tails / November 10, 2013 8:44 AM PST

I have used reveo uninstaler for several years now workes better then the window one itgoes back and cleanes up any pieces left hope this helps

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by ejmay / November 8, 2013 9:56 AM PST
In reply to: Similar Problem

hey, Tavis,
I downloaded BitTorrent & got some toolbar along with it. next thing I know I'm getting hi-jacked to LongfinTuna.net & other odd behavior. www.Malwaretips.com has an article: step by step removal & several layers of scrubbing including MalwareBytes, Spybot, HitManPro. it's really easy-2-follow & thorough.

but the bottom line is prevention-
my # 1 advice: don't install anything when U should be sleeping - your guard is down.
also as MalwareTips advises: "You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as this Web.longfintuna.net adware. Be very careful what you agree to install.
Always opt for the custom installation"

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I got the LongfinTuna crap. Ad-Aware free takes care of it
by pagodazz / November 8, 2013 10:18 AM PST
In reply to: BitTorrent

It was tough to get rid of, I spend a few hours looking for solutions, but then found Ad-Aware for free and it does a great job, no hassles. Easy to do. Some of those step-by-step web site solutions are far too complex for a general user to go through, so I used Ad-Aware and once it was set up for free it keeps updating itself and running scans, so problem solved since that time. (No I don't work for them)

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Just one problem...
by JCitizen / November 8, 2013 5:00 PM PST

You have to go all in for their anti-virus - I'm just not ready to do that - especially after the suspicious consortium that bought Lavasoft out some time ago! Plain

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Sweet Pals
by KathleenQuinlan / November 8, 2013 10:26 AM PST
In reply to: Similar Problem

Reset FF? What is that? How do you reset Chrome And IE?

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They come packaged with other software
by victork1 / November 1, 2013 12:07 PM PDT

Lately you see those darn things everywhere, the most common but not exclusively - when you install or upgrade Java or Adobe Acrobat Reader. Always, always take a look at the entire splash screen before clicking on "next", odds are there will be a check box checked for installing tool bars or extra antivirus (needs to be noted that if you have an antivirus already, installing extra ones create conflicts, so pick one and don't keep installing new ones; and if you don't have one, do that before doing anything else!).

Very important foot note: do not install anything from this site, CNET's download.com. This is used to be THE place to go for safe software, but one day I installed something and it came with 2 additional programs and even worse - there were no choice for check boxes, so I wasn't even given the chance to un - check anything. There was even a nasty blog right here, dozens of users complaining and multiple emails were sent to Lee Koo and he didn't acknowledge anything. So for safe downloads, go to majorgeeks.com

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I noticed the download.com changes when they first happened
by 4Denise / November 2, 2013 8:42 AM PDT

...right after CNET was bought out. There is a way around it. The problem is with the downloader. Some downloads are still direct. Others, though, require that we pay close attention. Look for a tiny line of text under the big download button. It says "direct download link." Click on that INSTEAD of the download button.

I also keep the downloaded software I get in a folder on one of my drives. If I have to reinstall, I have the copy I originally used. When I download an updated version, I wait until I test it before I delete the older version. It has helped a lot, especially if I must do a clean install or if I get a new computer.

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by marikavs / November 24, 2013 2:20 AM PST

I had to learn the hard way, and *then* noticed the "direct download link." But now I don't know how to change Safari's "Default search engine," which shows up as Yahoo!. (In OS X 10.6.8; Safari 5.1.10) Fortunately, I was able to change the search-bar itself back to what was there before.

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stay away from CNET
by Stan002 / November 8, 2013 9:20 AM PST

Stay away from CNET downloads or at least be very, very careful to disable other, included download garbage.. CNET downloads are full of malware and other garbage software. I stopped using anything from this site a while ago.

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CNET and download.com - Source of adware/malware
by pixelriffic / November 8, 2013 10:49 PM PST
In reply to: stay away from CNET

I was just about to post the same thing about download.com. I was shocked when I found myself infected by a piece of adware/malware earlier this year. Hijacked both Chrome and IE. It was a pain to remove. I was shocked when I realized the source was download.com. This seriously damaged the CNET brand in my view.

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(NT) Totally agree
by whobiggs / November 8, 2013 11:41 PM PST
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by rwscolari / November 8, 2013 11:29 PM PST
In reply to: stay away from CNET

I have had the same problem. Too bad. CNET used to be a trusted site. I suspect the Suits, in charge, saw dollars signs and went for the money. There should, must, be someone who oversees download offerings at CNET and they need to step up and police the site. Once the word gets out people will go elsewhere and the all important ad hits will drop off along with ad revenue. Who wins---nobody!

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Stay away from Cnet downloads
by Novel8 / November 9, 2013 4:20 AM PST
In reply to: stay away from CNET

You took that warning right out of my post. lol

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"CNET bought out"
by marikavs / November 24, 2013 2:33 AM PST
In reply to: stay away from CNET

According to 4Denise CNET was bought out. I never heard/read about it, and why didn't I/you, but it doesn't surprise me that they were. Quality has suffered tremendously recently.

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Free software
by pf6682 / November 8, 2013 12:43 PM PST

Now recently I download a free program from majorgeeks.com and it comes with a lot of unnecessary software which you have no way of unchecking it. Now I download free software from Filehippo.com which so far has not encounter any unnecessary software.

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by travis41 / November 8, 2013 1:48 PM PST
In reply to: Free software

U hit the nail on the head,99% of my d/ls come ONLY from Cnet or FileHippo,still must check 4 the little boxes however,it's a revenue deal after all.

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by whobiggs / November 8, 2013 11:44 PM PST
In reply to: Free software

I was going to check out majorgeeks but I won't bother now you said that thanks. I trust filehippo, so far no probs with them.

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