browser hijack

Why is my browser typing strange text?

Episode 1398

Jeff from Apple Valley, CA
Keyboard

Jeff is getting strange random key strokes appearing in his browser bar. Leo says to try a different browser. Windows comes with both Edge and Internet Explorer. If it happens in both browsers, it could be a failing keyboard. Jeff should unplug his keyboard and try a new one. If he still has the issue, then it's a Windows problem, which could be malware or a browser hijack. He could try resetting his browser first. If that solves the problem, then he's fine. If not, then it may be that he'll need to reinstall Windows from a known good source.

Have I been hacked?

Episode 1395

Carlos from Jersey City, CA
Virus Found Message

Carlos is getting a popup telling him he's been hacked. He's got OS X Lion on his Mac. Leo says that there's a new thing called "ScareWare" which makes people think they have been hacked or have a virus and it won't let them exit the browser until they call a number. But in reality, it's just a popup that's designed to scare people into calling so that they can convince them to install a remote app that will allow the to do something to "fix" it.

Have I been bit by ransomware?

Episode 1389

Grover from California
Google Chrome

Grover has a popup that says to call Microsoft Support. Has he been bit by ransomware? Leo says no, probably not. It's a phishing attack, but it's to try and get him to call in and then they charge him and access his computer. It's Scareware, really. He can ignore it, but it keeps popping up and he has to reboot his system to get rid of it. He even replaced the hard drive, but it didn't help.

Did malware break my laptop?

Episode 1383

Janet from Santa Monica, CA
Apple MacBook Air

Janet has a 2014 MacBook Air and she's got malware. Leo says it's very rare to get malware on the mac, so it's unlikely. Janet is getting redirected to other sites. That's a browser hijack, not a virus. It's malware, but it's browser level malware. The laptop has also died as a result. Leo says that hardware can die, especially a laptop that's being carried around. A MacBook Air may be more prone because it's so thin. It could also just be a bad logic board or diode on it. It's not related to the malware/browser hijack issue, though. It doesn't work that way.

Has my browser been hijacked?

Episode 1383

Doug from St. Louis, MO
Chrome Reset

Doug's in laws are getting popups in Chrome using Facebook that malware is on their machine asking them to download something. Leo says that is a fishing scam trying to get them to download and install something. Leo suspects that there is a malicious extension in Chrome that is causing it. Leo suggests resetting Chrome to wipe out everything. They'll have to reinstall the extensions, but it's the only way to be sure. They should go to Settings and search for Reset. That'll make it go away.

Has my computer been hacked?

Episode 1382

Art from California
Hacker

Art opened his computer and something took control of Chrome and wouldn't let him shut down the app or his computer. Has he been hacked? Leo says not to panic. It's likely a javascript instruction that hacked a website. He can always force quit his browser to get out of it. He can do that by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete to open the task manager for Windows. On macOS, press Option-Command-Escape and Force Quit the app.

Has my Mac been hacked?

Episode 1360

Brian from Lancaster, CA
macOS Sierra

Brian thinks his Mac got hit by malware. He clicked on a link that took him to a page saying his Adobe Flash player was out of date, and he installed something. Now he thinks he's been busted. Leo says that Chrome has Flash built-in, and it's always updated, so he'll never have an outdated version.

Why does eBay keep harassing me to verify my identity with credit cards, PINs, etc?

Joe from San Diego, CA

Episode 881

Leo says this doesn't sound like it's actually ebay.com. It sounds like something on his system is hijacking his browser and sending him somewhere else. One way malware could do this is by changing his "Hosts" file. So when he visits ebay.com, his computer will check that modified "Hosts" file and send him somewhere else. He might also have DNS Changer on his system which would then change the lookup results he would get and send him to a phony DNS server.