Net Xpress: There are actions you can take to recover from browser hijacking

January 25, 2004|SHEILA J. CLARK

Have you ever opened your Web browser and find that it has a new homepage - one that you didn't set nor were you aware of how it got changed? If so, you were probably a victim of a browser hijacking.

Browser hijackings come in various forms. Some occur by little scripts from an Active X control that is set to run when you visit a Web site. The scripts will automatically change your default to whatever the Web site wants it to be. This can be prevented by keeping your Windows system updated by visiting the Windows Update site and applying any security patches.

Others are placed in your Startup folder to run whenever you start your system or are deeply embedded in your Windows Registry. The latter is a little more complicated, as the Windows Registry isn't something that should be played with. One wrong move done in the Registry and you might end up with a non-bootable system.


There are a few ways to reclaim your browser. Manually you can go into your browser preferences and change the homepage back to your liking. To do this, do the following in Internet Explorer: click Tools, then Internet Options, then change the Home page address and click OK.

In Netscape 7, click Edit, then Preferences, then change the homepage address in the box that appears. Unfortunately, this will only work on certain hijacking situations.

If you have a hijacking that involves the Registry, find someone with computer knowledge to help you out, or if you have a Windows system with the restore feature, such as Windows ME or XP, use that to restore your system to an earlier date before the hijacking took place. To run System Restore, click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and select System Restore.

There are also several programs that will scan your system for commonly known browser hijackers and remove them. Lavasoft offers a free program called Ad-Aware, which removes spyware from your system for free at The direct link to the Ad-Aware download page is

In some cases, the reason for browser hijacking is to get a Net user to return to a site, but other hijackers do it to unfairly increase the traffic to their Web site - for whatever reason.

Net buzzz

* Last Thursday, Xandros, a leading developer of desktop Linux solutions, announced the release of its Xandros Business Desktop Operating System. This is the first in the company's new line of Xandros Business Solutions. Read more at

The company also released Xandros Desktop Management Server (xDMS). This server-based suite offers the first complete deployment and management solution for Linux desktops in a secure business environment. Read more at

* AOL and MovieLink have joined forces to provide a new service called the Winter Movie Special. The special will run for five weeks, from now until Feb. 26. The service will allow AOL broadband subscribers to watch 10 big-name movies for 99 cents each.

Among the movies available to see are "Finding Nemo," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "The Matrix Reloaded". After being downloaded, the movies can be viewed up to 24 hours; afterwards, they will vanish from the hard drive. Learn more at

* AOL has launched a new version of the AOL@SCHOOL software providing better spam and e-mail virus controls. Read more at 55253729.

E-mail me at; fax me at (859) 236-9566; or write me snail-mail at The Advocate-Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Danville, KY 40423-0149.

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