What in the World is a Hijacker?
A hijacker, in the world of computers and the internet at least- is usually a browser extension that hijacks (takes over) your browser’s home page (start page) or your browser’s default search engine.
An example of a “home page hijacker”
You have http://thundercloud.net/start/ set as your browser’s home page (please? please?), and after you install Miss Molly’s Smiling Toolbar Extravaganza (MMSTE) every time you open your browser you go to Miss Molly’s Super Smiling Home Page with 742 blinking advertisements and 423 animated gifs. And one lonely little “Good Golly Miss Molly” search form.
An example of a “search engine hijacker”
You use Google to search the web. But after you install the aforementioned Miss Molly’s etc. You find whenever you type a search in your address bar the search results come from – you guessed it! Miss Molly’s Magnificent Screaming Search Engine, which shows search results consisting of pages of search results consisting of 992 advertisements for various products related to your search in some remote way and 10 actual search results buried on page sixty-two.
Another way a hijacker can highjack your searches is to “inject” ads, banners, etc. into your normal search results. For instance, you’re searching on Google and suddenly you see a banner for Smiley Senseless at the top, and down there where your search results are normally found you find seventeen dog food ads, cat flea-spray ads, YOU WON TEN FREE LOBSTER DINNERS FROM THE ANGRY LOBSTER ads, and then, way down below, your real search results appear. But, unless you look carefully, the ads look just like real search results. I suppose this would be OK if you were hungry for lobster and you won the ten free lobster dinners from The Angry Lobster restaurant. But don’t hold your breath -the odds against that are about ten billion to one.
Managing browser extensions
Having too many extensions installed in your browser can cause it to open and run more slowly, and it makes it harder to find the culprit if/when you unwittingly install a home page or search engine hijacker, or an ad-spewing browser extension. Learn to manage your browser extensions here.