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    Secure your browser from homepage hijacking




    LANGALIST PLUS

    Secure your browser from homepage hijacking


    By Fred Langa

    It's always annoying and sometimes dangerous when software changes your browser's homepage without your consent.


    Here's how to prevent malware, or any software, from making unauthorized changes to your browser's homepage.


    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/langalist-plus/secure-your-browser-from-homepage-hijacking/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    Smile Secure your browser from homepage hijacking 2012-01-11, 19:50

    One other way, Fred, is to use Winpatrol. I have the paid version of this, but I think the free version does this too. It offers the facility to check if any application (online or offline) tryies to reset the homepage and asks for confirmation, both alerting you to the incident when it happens and allowing you to refuse permission. In my experience it works well, on both XP and Win7. For those who don't want (for any reason) to delve into the back-office bits of Windows, it's simple and safe

    rdl

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    People who choose to use RealTemp for CPU system temperature monitoring might find it helpful to know that if they have a newer Sandy Bridge processer, the release version of RealTemp, 3.60, gives erroneous readings. The 3.69.1 beta version, available here, http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/...eal-Temp.shtml , among other places, works just fine.

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    Hello Fred:
    As usual your column is probably THE most instructive of all the columns I read.
    I experiment a lot so I tried loading Core Temp. It's a smelly mess of Yahoo Toolbars and Weather Bug.
    If at all possible, let us know when you mention "free" software that a deceptive install is used.
    I don't mind a straight forward yes/no or check/uncheck screen.
    But intentionally muddling the response to deceive a user into installing unwanted software is a deal breaker for me.
    Nevertheless - thanks for all your info!

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Core Temp and a Useful Gadget

    In Windows 7 (also works in Windows 8 Developer Preview) I use CoreTemp with a Desktop Gadget from the same developers, called CPU Usage. It's available from the Microsoft Gadgets Gallery, and it is popular with folks like me who like to look under the hood. My particular interest arises from the dual-mode processing features and four-fold hyperthreading found in the Intel Core-i5 processors. My processor is Gen-1, so it is not Sandy Bridge.

    By the way, if you have SATA-2 devices, stay away from any Sandy Bridge Intel processor -- they have a history of failures in their transistors related to SATA-2 support. There was a proposed recall, but the problem was so widespread and was reported so late in the production cycle, that Intel the PC manufacturers decide not to do the recall and not to fix the problem. It's a ticking time-bomb now. And there's no easy way for consumers to determine if your particular processor is affected. SATA-3 is the coming or current SATA standard, but there are still a lot of SATA-2 internal drives and controllers installed in these flawed laptops.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Home Page Hijacking and Security Software

    Even the free versions of Malwarebytes and Super Antispyware offer an option to actively monitor Home Page and prevent unwanted changes. I have found these to be very effective protections. I get either a notification, or else the change is prevented without my intervention. Very effective on Windows XP Pro and Windows 7. Windows 8 has Windows Defender, which (along with IE 10's security improvements) will prevent most cases of HomePage hijacking without third-party programs or hacking tricks. Smart Screen Filtering is pretty effective at this, and it improves in IE 10.

    (For other reasons, I disabled SmartScreen in Windows 8, but that's a risk I can take, being aware of what is happening when I'm online.)
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-01-19 at 08:18. Reason: BruceR has a problem with my semantics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Even the free, non-active versions of Malwarebytes and Super Antispyware offer an option to actively monitor Home Page and prevent unwanted changes.
    How do non-active programs actively monitor?

    Bruce

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    Re Coretemp. I find it very useful also; it helps me better see that its time to cleanout a PC, especially a laptop. I can also get a feel for how hard a cpu is working based on temp. When I see a high temp it may well be time to investigate.

    I also run Moo0's System Monitor, but unfortunately it's temp functions mostly don't work, hence I need both tools.

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    I have one small problem with any temperature measuring utilities. I have Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1. When I try to run any of the utilities (I am currently using Speed Fan) at start up, they do not run. When I run them manually, the UAC pops up and I have to click OK. I assume that this is why they won't run at start up. Is there any way to get these type of utilities to run at start up.
    Thanks, Lyle

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    New Lounger dkmac's Avatar
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    I'll add a +1 to WinPatrol.

    Also, Fred writes in the section about locking down your homepage (Step 6), that you can optionally enter the URL for the home page you want to lock in using GPedit. When I clicked on "Enabled" and hit the apply button without entering the URL for the home page, I got a pop-up window stating that no home page had been input in the Home Page box. Once I pasted in the URL for my preferred home page, the feature works as advertised.
    "A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill." Robert A. Heinlein

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    I've gotten pretty good at either preventing the extra junk some items come with from installing, or cleaning it out once it does. But it is extremely annoying and a very slimy practice to not allow you to stop the cr-pware from installing.

    Having said that, I do find Coretemp very helpful.

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    How you start some of these may make a difference. Ones that 'start with Windows' may be less subject to the UAC nonsense, while ones in the 'startup' group more so. Any comments?

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    When I went to build a PC about a year ago, it was just when the stink of the Sandy Bridge SATA problem was hitting. The problem was in the chipset, not the processor itself. Reputable motherboard makers recalled a huge number of brand new mobos, started making new mobos with the updated chipset, and then there was a huge shortage for a couple months of mobos with the fixed chipset. I went nuts trying to get my Asus P8P67 Deluxe; a site would take my order (indicating they had stock), then a day later say there was an indefinite wait. Took several weeks all told to get it, but it has the revised chipset and thus should not have the SATA problem in question.

    So the correct thing to watch out for is any early Sandy Bridge mobo where you are not absolutely sure you have the revised chipset. ASUS, for instance, is very good about labeling theirs; just get it from a reputable source, because a lot of bad mobos got into circulation. I'd stear clear of ebay and any questionable source on any older SB mobo in particular, only going for ones that were not around a year ago.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    How do non-active programs actively monitor?

    Bruce
    They have the option, not the default, to install just this and a few other active protections. They are not entirely passive when these features are activated, but they do not seem to interfere with antivirus which has many active elements runnning. Sorry if my semantics have once again tripped your triggers.

    You seem to be very picky when responding to my posts. I have edited this post to remove an offensive term. But I am not pleased with this pickiness, and I am not the only Lounge member who has not been pleased when anyone starts behaving this way. (Not just BruceR.)
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-01-31 at 12:59.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    They have the option, not the default, to install just this and a few other active protections. They are not entirely passive when these features are activated, but they do not seem to interfere with antivirus which has many active elements runnning. Sorry if my semantics have once again tripped your triggers.

    You seem to be very picky when responding to my posts. This is Troll behavior. If this behavior continues or worsens, I will complain to the Administrators.
    Pardon me for wishing to discuss. I thought that's why we were here?

    I have Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free, updated to the latest 1.60, and I don't see any "option to actively monitor Home Page and prevent unwanted changes".

    In the unregistered version of Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, the protection tab shows a comparison of the two versions, highlighting the added features
    available in the PRO Version. Clicking Purchase or the comparison image takes the user to the Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware online store.
    (from the Help file)

    By the way; it also appears that if Fred Langa's Local Group Policy Editor recommendation is used to Disable changing home page settings, then Malwarebytes will flag that setting as potentially malicious: Internet Explorer Lock Home Page Setting

    Bruce

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