Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Author Jack Cross had a problem. A rogue search engine and advertising dump site had taken over his browser. Read what he had to go through before he found the solution. No, we don't usually include semi-technical articles but this one could help the uninitiated who are, like Jack, not clued about dealing with web predators.

My default browser is Firefox. And several weeks ago, when I fired it up, I discovered that the home page had been replaced by the dreaded websearches home page. Not only that. My computer was being swamped by rogue programs I didn't want. Yes, I could quickly switch to the Firefox home page. But that didn't cure the infection. Strange sites and services continued to download when I was working on other sites or surfing the web.

Why? I had tried to download an innocent enough free program from one of the many sites that provide them. It was clearly not the site to go to as now malware was dumped on me constantly. I checked my other browsers. All were infected with the websearches home page. All, that is, except Safari, which, I believe, has a different basic code.

So what to do. First, I checked on the web. Many sites had solutions for the scourge. You went into the browser and deleted rogue apps. You deleted all your cookies. You searched your program files for interlopers and removed them.

I did all this, constantly. I also checked my C: drive for suspicious downloads and deleted several items from my computer registry. I used the Window virus system checks, the Spybot checks. And I kept doing it. But the unwanted dumps still came and the browsers were still infected. I restored the browsers to their defaults but that didn't work either.

I tried to remove the rogue search engine from the Firefox list. But, apparently it is part of the default and the remove button didn't work.

I got to the stage where I dreaded going on line. And, of course, I had realised by then, that many of the articles about the problem that I read were obsolete. Because the websearches mob had apparently disguised their methods since.

Now I am no geek. Just an amateur with computers. I thought of one last ploy. I deleted Firefox and Chrome entirely, then reloaded them.

Problem solved! (So far.)

Don't ask me why. But, to date, I have had no more troubles. In the process, I have learned a few things about protecting my computer. Trial and error for me. But possibly a help to you.

The takeout? Be very careful which sites you download from. No, I can't remember the name of the one that nobbled me. If I could, it would be here in large type.