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February 04, 2014

Google Chrome Helps Users Recover from Browser Hijacking

Google has announced an update to its Chrome browser that allows users to restore it to an original state should it be hijacked.

“So, you're trying to download a free screensaver or game or something else you really want. But later you find out that game came bundled with a malicious program that's trying to hijack your browser settings,” Linus Upson, vice president of engineering at Google, wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature. “You're not the only one having this problem—in fact, it's an issue that’s continuing to grow at an alarming rate. You should always be in charge of your own Chrome settings. To help keep your browser settings under your control we added a ‘reset browser settings’ button to Chrome’s settings page in October.”

A determined piece of malware would try to disable the user being able to access the settings at all to reset the browser. Google cited browser hijacking as its main complaint in its user forum.

This is why Google has gone even further by offering a pop-up when it detects that the browser’s setting might have been changed without a user’s permission. Windows users will then have the opportunity to reset their browser. This will disable any extensions a user has installed and they will have to be manually reenabled one by one. Doing it this way lessens the chance that the malware will be reactivated with the legitimate extensions.

Windows malware programs often leave other processes running that will attempt to block the user from trying to get rid of them. Some particularly evil programs even claim to be antimalware programs, even going as far as to borrow Windows logos in an attempt to trick unwary users into thinking they’re from Microsoft. Google suggests that users go the help forum if they need more help getting rid of hijacking attempts.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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