Fix your hijacked web browser

"Browser hijacking" is a type of online fraud. Scammers use malicious software to take control of your computer's Internet browser and change how and what it displays when you're surfing the web.

If you keep your computer updated with the latest security software and updates, and practice safe Internet browsing you're already doing a lot to keep the hijackers away.

But if you are already the victim of a hijacked browser there are several ways you can combat online fraud, free your browser from the hackers, and restore its settings.

Help restore a hijacked browser and boost browser security

The following six tips can help restore your browser's settings:

1. Stop cascading pop-up windows. If endless pop-up windows appear on your screen, you'll probably want to stop them first. To do this in Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or Windows 2000 while using Internet Explorer:

      Press CTRL+ALT+DEL, click Task Manager, and then click the Processes tab.

      Click IEXPLORE.EXE, and then click the End Process button.

This closes all instances of Internet Explorer. Then you can re-open the program to continue browsing as usual. To help prevent future attacks, you should also have a pop-up blocker turned on.

To turn on the pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer 8 click the Tools button (the gear icon), point to Pop-up Blocker, and then click Turn On Pop-Up Blocker.

To turn on the pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer 7:

       Click Tools menu, click Internet Options, and then click the Privacy tab.

       In the Pop-up Blocker box, select the Block pop-ups check box. Click OK.

If you still experience the other effects of a hijacked web browser, try the following:

2. Install Microsoft Security Essentials or another antivirus and antispyware program. Microsoft Security Essentials is free software that will help protect your computer from malicious software such as viruses or spyware. Many browser hijacking programs can be identified and removed by downloading, installing, and running Microsoft Security Essentials or a similar tool.

3. Run the Malicious Software Removal Tool. This can catch some, but not all, kinds of hijacking software.

4. Reset Internet Explorer settings. If you're using Internet Explorer and your home page has been changed, you can often reset it yourself.

Note If you use Microsoft Security Essentials, Forefront Client Security, Windows Defender, or the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool and these tools have detected and removed hijacking software from your computer, these tools might change your home page and your search page to help protect against the malicious software.

For more information and step-by-step instructions, see How to restore your Internet Explorer home page and search page preferences.

5. Disable add-ons. Many browser hijackings come from add-ons, also known as ActiveX controls, browser extensions, browser helper objects, or toolbars. These items can improve your experience on a website by providing multimedia or interactive content, such as animations. However, some add-ons can cause your computer to stop responding or display content that you don't want, such as pop-up ads.