Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Browser Hijackers Ruining Lives

Browser Hijackers Ruining Lives
By: Michelle Delio
May 11, 2004
Browser hijackers are doing more than just changing homepages. They are also changing some peoples’ lives for the worse.
Browser hijackers are malicious programs that change browser settings, usually altering designated default start and search pages. But some, such as CWS, also produce pop-up ads for pornography, add dozens of bookmarks — some for extremely hard-core pornography websites — to Internet Explorer’s Favorites folder, and can redirect users to porn websites when they mistype URLs.

Traces of browsed sites can remain on computers, and it’s difficult to tell from those traces whether a user willingly or mistakenly viewed a website. When those traces connect to borderline-criminal websites, people may have a hard time believing that their employee or significant other hasn’t been spending an awful lot of time cruising adult sites.

In response to a recent Wired News story about the CWS browser hijacker, famed for peddling porn, several dozen readers sent e-mails in which they claimed to have lost or almost lost jobs, relationships and their good reputations when their computers were found to harbor traces of pornography that they insist were placed on their computers by a browser hijacker.

In one case a man claims that a browser hijacker sent him to jail after compromising images of children were found on his work computer by an employer, who then reported him to law enforcement authorities.

“The police raided my house on Sept. 17, 2002,” said “Jack,” who came to the United States from the former Soviet Union as a political refugee, and has requested that his name not be published. “Nobody gave me a chance to explain. I was told by judge and prosecutor that I will get years in prison if I go to trial. After negotiations through my lawyer I got 180 days in an adult correctional facility. I was imprisoned for 20 days and then released under the Electronic Home Monitoring scheme. I now have a felony sex-criminal record, and the court ordered me to register as a predatory sex offender for 10 years.”

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