Have you heard of browser hijacking? To view and interact with websites, you’ll need to use a web browser. A web browser is a type of computer software that’s able to render web-accessible documents. Web browsers, however, may succumb to hijacking. By understanding how browser hijacking works, you can prevent it from occurring.

What Is Browser Hijacking?

Browser hijacking refers to the use of either unwanted or malicious software that, in some way, changes a web browser. While web browsers themselves are software, they support other types of software. Most web browsers, for example, support plugins and/or extensions. With browser hijacking, unwanted or malicious software such as this will modify the targeted web browser.

Different Forms of Browser Hijacking

Not all browser hijacking attacks are the same. There are different forms of browser hijacking. Some browser hijacking attacks involve the use of spyware. The spyware will attach itself to the targeted web browser, after which it will track all of the websites the victim visits.

Another common form of browser hijacking is keylogging. Rather than spyware, some browser hijacking attacks use a keylogger. The keylogger will monitor all of the keystrokes performed by the victim in his or her web browser. There’s also grayware-based browser hijacking. A common example of grayware-based browser hijacking is unwanted software that comes packaged with other software. You may unknowingly install the grayware, at which point it targets your web browser.

Antivirus Software and Browser Hijacking

Don’t assume that antivirus software will restore your web browser. All browser hijacking attacks involve the use of unwanted or malicious software. Unfortunately, antivirus software may or may not recognize them as malware.

Grayware-based browser hijacking software, for example, may go undetected. Grayware isn’t malware. Therefore, antivirus software typically won’t detect it. If your computer is infected with a keylogger, on the other hand, antivirus software should detect it. The bottom line is that antivirus software may or may not offer protection against browser hijacking.

Use Windows 10

A simple solution to protect against browser hijacking is to use Windows 10. Unlike older versions of Microsoft’s operating system (OS), Windows 10 prohibits web browsers — as well as other software — from making changes to browser settings without the user’s permission.

If you’re using an older version of Windows, updating to Windows 10 will protect you from browser hijacking. As long as you don’t manually change your browser’s settings, you won’t have to worry about this cyber threat.