Browser hijacks are when a web browsers homepage, search page or error pages are changed or redirected. Browser hijacks are usually performed by viruses or malware although several webpages and programs can hijack a browser. A common type of program that performs these kind of hijacks is one of the many ‘free’ toolbars that are available to download from the internet. Toolbars from the major vendors such as google and yahoo are usually considered safe although even these raise some privacy concerns.
Some hijacks are very easy to remove by manually resetting the home and search pages to the desired pages from the web browser menu. A lot however are not very easy to remove. A computer infected with a virus or spyware often uses this method to redirect the browser to webpages that install more viruses and spyware. A degree of protection against these types of attack was introduced in Windows XP Service pack 2 although it is no substitute for a good antivirus and firewall. Later version of windows o/s such as Windows 7 and windows 8/8.1 are even more resiliant but again a good antivirus/antimalware program are essential, such as Bullguard for domestic users and Bitdefender for business users. This is probably the most common kind of virus activity now.