Browser hijacking on my mac

confused hijackers comic

I noticed on my mac a few weeks ago that a webpage that I would visit would sometimes redirect me randomly to other websites. I had never experienced this before and was confused. It turns out this is called Browser hijacking and can take many forms.

Classically this kind of malware will take over your start page, or redirect your search page to something different. In this case it was showing me a warning that I needed mac security software interspersed with redirection to other websites. Here is how I troubleshooted this. First I turned off all extensions. The behavior still occurred. Then I completely deleted the browser, and deleted the application support/cache/preferences file from my ~/ (home) directory on the mac. Then I reinstalled Brave and the problem was gone.

You can search google and there are many very through guides on how to fix this on a PC. It can get involved. Starting with troubleshooting is always the best idea. You try to simplify the problem by removing variables like extensions and then doing things like clearing the cache/cookies. Then uninstalling and reinstalling the program sometimes will help. Another way is to try another browser and see if it happens on that browser as well. Then it could be either a systemic issue or limited to one browser.

You may be saying to yourself, well you are foolish and caused this problem yourself by going to questionable websites or downloading things you shouldn’t have. Sure you can blame the victim if you want. Many websites have malware injected in them, and many popular websites have been serving malware in the past. Blaming someone doesn’t help anyone. I take responsibility for what I do, and I fixed it.

See also  Stories from my past: Unexpected gifts

Now some of you may be saying “Oh this is the safe Browser you are talking about? You said Brave had all these safety precautions and you had this problem?” Yes. It is the first problem I have had with Brave after using it for 4 years. In the same period of time when I have used Chrome/Safari/IE and other browsers I have had much more serious issues. I don’t consider this a failing of Brave. It didn’t spread, it didn’t compromise information, it was an inconvenience and nothing more.

Now normally when I see malware I tend to fix it, and then reinstall the system. I like being sure that my system and data are safe. However in this case I think that it didn’t get its hooks in very far and I feel safe that it is gone. I had Microsoft Defender installed which didn’t catch it, but thats ok. Nothing is perfect. Microsoft Defender did catch something on the mac several years ago and I was glad it was there. Nothing is perfect, not even the mac.