Category Archives: Home Page Hijacking

Porn Surfing – Put a Software Condom on Your Computer!

OK, for the purists out there, maybe I should have used the word “prophylactic”, rather than condom. After all, the classical definition of a prophylactic is – a device that acts to defend against, or prevent something from occurring.

Online pornography is enormously popular. So popular that the pornography industry has revenues larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined. That’s right, the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.

Three essential factors have impacted the popularity of Internet pornography:

Easy Internet access

The anonymity the Internet provides

Cost effectiveness

Experienced computer users however, are generally aware that pornographic web sites are notorious for spyware, viruses, browser exploits, and phishing attacks, on insufficiently protected computers.

The credibility of this view is emphasized by Esa Suurio, CEO of Against Intuition Inc., the company that supports Web of Trust, {see Like Porno Sites? – They LOVE You!), on this site, who concluded following a recent survey “Visiting the red light district of the Internet makes the user vulnerable to spyware, viruses and leakage of confidential information which can cause significant damage.

Pornography is what it is, I am not a member of the Morality Police, and I hold no religious or political views on the availability of pornography on the Internet; except of course, pornography which is clearly illegal, or morally reprehensible.

My main concern with pornographic Websites is focused instead, on the primary/secondary use that many of these sites are designed for – as a vehicle for the distribution of potentially harmful malware applications that can be surreptitiously dropped onto unwitting visitors computers.

The potential for damage to both computers and users is enormous, considering the confidential/financial data that can be stolen by keyloggers, tracking cookies, and other common forms of malware used by porn sites.

Unethical porno sites have a reputation for some, or all, of the following behavior:

Pop-up windows that are difficult, or impossible to close – Tip: Pressing the Control key and the W key simultaneously, will generally close pop-ups.

Browser hijacking.

Dropping spyware, viruses, Trojans, and rogue applications.

Requiring the installation of a plug-in or codec – a favorite method of malware insertion.

Be particularly cautious of so called “free three-day trial memberships”. These schemes are notorious for fraud and credit card scams. Just try to take advantage of a “free three-day trial memberships”, without providing credit card details.

Before surfing porn web sites:

Install the latest operating system updates, and patches, on your computer. This step is just common sense in all circumstances. Unpatched systems will be attacked! Unethical porn sites can drop malicious code which will exploit vulnerabilities in your browser or operating system. Just visiting these sites can infect, or damage your system.

Ensure you are using the latest version of your Internet Browser – known security holes in older Browser versions will be exploited.

Consider switching your Browser – Experienced computer users tend to use FireFox as they’re principal Internet Browser, since the security add-ons which are available, offer substantial protection from exploits. No Browser however, is totally secure against exploits.

Turn off JavaScript in your Browser.

Install effective ant-malware solutions on your computer. The following free anti-malware and system protection applications offer effective protection.

This list is not exhaustive. For more information and additional free anti-malware and system protection applications, read “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable!” on this site.

Firewall: Comodo Firewall Pro

The definitive free firewall in my view; Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet.

Internet Browser protection: Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

(Click pic for larger) – In this Google seach for “hot porno sites”, notice that WOT indicates that out of the 6 sites illustrated, 2 are dangerous, 2 should be viewed with caution, 1 is an unknown quantity, and only 1 is safe.

Anti-virus: Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic

This anti-virus program offers comprehensive protection with an easy to use interface. In the ten months I have been testing Avira I have been impressed with its performance, and I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus program. I highly recommend this one.

Anti-spyware: Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats.

Adware remover: Ad-Aware 2008

Many software reviewers consider Ad-Aware 2008 Free as the best free adware remover available. It does a relatively good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version is real-time protection is not included.

Zero-day malware protection: ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior.

How much information can a web site collect about you?

If you are interested in seeing just how much information your Internet Browser gives away about you and your computer system when you visit a web site, then checkout BrowserSpy.dk.

In my experience, most people are shocked at the amount of information that a web site is capable of collecting from a simple visit.

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Filed under Adware, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Free HijackThis – A Powerful Anti-Malware Tool

Given the extreme state of the Internet today, and all of it’s accompanying dangers, computer users’ need all the help we can get to keep our machines free of spyware/Trojans/viruses/hijackers ……. Just fill in the blanks.

HijackThis is a free utility by Trend Micro which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, other malware, or even unwanted programs.

This application has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

The program doesn’t target specific programs, but instead it analyses registry and file settings, and then targets the methods used by cyber-crooks. After you scan your computer, HijackThis creates a report, or log file, with the results of the scan.

Because of the heuristic methods used by HijackThis, the results of the scan can be confusing/intimidating, to those who are not advanced users. On the other hand, the strength of this program lies in the large community of users who participate in online forums, where experts (voluntarily and for free), will interpret HijackThis scan results for you, and then provide you with the information you need to clean any infection.

The latest version (2.0.2), adds potent tools to the Configuration window including, a process manager and hosts file editor to help you remove dangerous infections, and an ADS Spy tool which scans alternate data streams, that browser hijackers can, and will use, to evade antispyware applications.

Despite the fact that you may only need this small application infrequently, it deserves a place in your anti-malware toolbox.

To get a real feel for how powerful this small application is, checkout the great tutorial on using HijackThis, at BleepingComputer.com.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Me, 98

Software requirements: Internet Explorer, FireFox

Download at: Download.com

To read a great article on the current state of other free security tools hop on over to Techwalker, and checkout my friend Mark’s article on
Online Security Tools Revisited.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Diagnostic Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Home Page Hijacking, Manual Malware Removal, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, System Utilities, trojans, Utilities, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

Free ZoneAlarm ForceField – Save $30 – Today Only (8/12/08)

Cyber-crooks continue to pursue their strategy of infecting web search results by utilizing custom-built websites designed to drop malicious code on computers. As well, the manipulation of legitimate pages in order to infect users with malware continues to escalate.

When a potential victim visits one of these sites the likelihood of downloading malicious code onto the computer, by exploiting existing vulnerabilities, is high.

To address this security vulnerability, amongst many others, Check Point Software, the developer of ZoneAlarm Firewall, has just released what amounts to a sandbox application.

ForceField is a virtualization system that sandboxes your browser, isolating it from the computer, ensuring that any incoming unsolicited software (spyware, malware and the like), that you download, is trapped in the virtualized environment.

In addition ForceField offers protection against hijacking of your start page, new and unwanted icons on your desktop, drive-by downloads, browser exploits, phishing attempts, spyware and keyloggers and more.

To get your free version of ForceField (one year license for one PC ), visit the ZoneAlarm ForceField promotion site (www.zonealarm.com/patchtuesday), between 6 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, August 12, and 6 a.m. on Wednesday, August 13.

Quick facts:

Block unauthorized downloads and malicious software installations

Protect your identity by blocking phishers and stopping keyloggers

Browse the internet in complete privacy–erases all cache, cookies, history and passwords

Run it with your existing security software–it’s fast, lightweight, and easy to use

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Browsers, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Phishing, Privacy, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Free WinPatrol – Monitor Your System

Do you want to get a better understanding of what programs are being added to your computer? Then WinPatrol, a neat system utility that’s compatible with Windows 95 – Vista, is the program for you. WinPatrol monitors system areas that malicious programs must attack and use. If anything changes, Scotty (the system tray Icon) will alert you.

In most cases, it will be a legitimate program you have recently installed. You can decide to keep it, remove it, or disable it, based on information provided by WinPatrol. With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor your system, startup programs, services, cookies and current tasks. WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs.

I have been using this free gem for years and it just gets better with every release!

There are many additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security toolbox.

Take a look at the following from the developer’s site:

Enhanced Keylogger Detection – The use of keyloggers for illegal purposes has exploded. A Schenectady man was recently jailed for up to three years for felony eavesdropping after putting a keylogger on his wife’s computer. While WinPatrol PLUS had always detected keyloggers we’ve enhanced this feature and it’s now available to free users so everyone is protected.

Interactive PLUS code Activation – Unfortunately the number of users depending on illegal PLUS codes has become a problem. While honored by the worldwide popularity of WinPatrol this could slow down access to PLUS information by our paid supporters. Our new version will do more to screen out invalid codes. In a few cases, users may find their valid codes are no longer working correctly. Those affected can write to support @ WinPatrol.com and we’ll make sure they receive the correct code.

Optimized Detection of New Services – As more and more programs move to the Windows Service model it become apparent that this may be a popular avenue of attack in the future. The routine used to monitor and detect new Window Services has been optimized to make this process transparent.

Decrease CPU Usage and Conflicts – Conflicts with some other registry intense programs may have resulted in abnormally high CPU usage on past versions. WinPatrol 14 includes some intelligent routines to allow complete protection without fighting over resources with other security suites and system level programs.

Express boot option – WinPatrol now includes an express boot option which will be used when machines boot up for the first time. This new feature optimizes boot time and allows other applications to maximize their initialization routines.

Regular Registry Cleanup – Some registry cleaners have complained that we don’t clean up some data stored in the registry quickly enough. This version will remove information that is no longer needed and “First Detected” information on a regular basic when the file no longer exists.

Download at: BillP Studios

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Hijack it Back! – Get HijackThis! – Free

Your home page has been hijacked and despite the fact you’ve run every anti-malware program in your arsenal, you can’t get it back. Don’t give up; there’s hope yet!

HijackThis is a free utility by Trend Micro which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, and other malware or unwanted programs.

This application has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

The program doesn’t target specific programs, but instead it analyses registry and file settings and targets the methods used by hijackers to redirect your browser. After the scan HijackThis creates a report, or log file, with the results of the scan.

Because of the heuristic methods used by HijackThis, the results of the scan can be confusing to those who are not advanced users. However, the strength of this program lies in the large community of users who participate in online forums, where experts will interpret HijackThis scan results for you, and provide you with the information you need to clean any infection.

There is a great tutorial on using HijackThis at BleepingComputer

The latest version (2.0.2), adds powerful tools to the Configuration window including, a process manager and hosts file editor to help you excise virulent infections, and the ADS Spy tool which scans alternate data streams, that browser hijackers can use to evade spyware removers.

Despite the fact that you may only need this small application infrequently, it deserves a place in your anti-malware toolbox.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Me, 98

Software requirements: Internet Explorer, FireFox

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Diagnostic Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Home Page Hijacking, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

More Spyware/Adware Protection – Get SpywareBlaster Free

sypwareblaster.jpgIt’s not very often that I forget about security protection software installed on my computer. But I must admit to having forgotten about the fact, that for years, I have had SpywareBlaster installed on my system. I help myself to feel better about this when I consider that unlike other security programs SpywareBlaster, once installed, does not run in the background and continues to provide protection without the need for user interaction.

SpywareBlaster prevents ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, and browser hijackers from installing on your system by disabling the CLSIDs (a system used by software applications to identify a file or other item), of spyware ActiveX controls. A secondary but equally important function offered by SpywareBlaster, is its ability to block spyware/tracking cookies and restrict the actions of spyware/adware/tracking sites in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Seamonkey, Flock and other browsers.

Since SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan for or clean spyware, but as stated earlier, prevents installation only, you should use it in combination with Spybot Search & Destroy and/or Ad-Aware to gain the maximum amount of protection.

SpywareBlaster is definitely low maintenance and the only thing you need to remember (the very thing that I had forgotten) is to update the database, which contains information on known spyware Active-X controls, regularly. Automatic update is also available for an annual fee of $9.95 USD.

SpywareBlaster also includes a System Snapshot feature with which you can take a snapshot of your computer in its clean state and later revert to this state, undoing any changes made by spyware and browser hijackers that have infected your system despite the security in place. I recommend that you take advantage of this important feature.

This is an important security protection tool to install on your system, particularly if your browser uses Active-X.

Download at: Javacool Software

SpywareBlaster Forum

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Internet Safety Tools, Privacy, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Home Page Hijacked? Get It Back Free – HijackThis – Version 2.0.2

Your home page has been hijacked and despite the fact you’ve run every anti-malware program in your arsenal, you can’t get it back. Well there’s hope yet!

HijackThis is a free utility by Trend Micro which heuristically scans your computer to find settings that may have been changed by homepage hijackers, spyware, and other malware or unwanted programs.

This application has a well deserved reputation for being aggressive in tracking down unauthorized changes that have been made to your system/applications.

The program doesn’t target specific programs, but instead it analyses registry and file settings and targets the methods used by hijackers to redirect your browser. After the scan HijackThis creates a report, or log file, with the results of the scan.

Because of the heuristic methods used by HijackThis, the results of the scan can be confusing to those who are not advanced users. However, the strength of this program lies in the large community of users who participate in online forums, where experts will interpret HijackThis scan results for you, and provide you with the information you need to clean any infection.

There is a great tutorial on using HijackThis at BleepingComputer

The latest version (2.0.2), adds powerful tools to the Configuration window including, a process manager and hosts file editor to help you excise virulent infections, and the ADS Spy tool which scans alternate data streams, that browser hijackers can use to evade spyware removers.

Despite the fact that you may only need this small application infrequently, it deserves a place in your anti-malware toolbox.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Me, 98

Software requirements: Internet Explorer 6.0 or 7.0, Firefox 1.5 or 2.0

Download at: Trend Micro

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Freeware, Home Page Hijacking, Malware Advisories, Privacy, Software, System File Protection, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools