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Beware of browser hijack

I am getting random word links, with pop up windows, when the mouse goes over the link. I am not getting them on banking or financial pages. An example: on the City of St Petersburg site, www.stpete.org/utilitybill/ the word "computer" turned into a link with pop-up window page that contains the following: "Free Local job search, Search thousands of jobs: monster.com: Aid by Highlight, click here". There are several other words turned into links such as access, backdraft, online account and more. I am using Internet Explorer v11, Windows 7 and Microsoft Security Essentials. I tried to correct the problem with a full scan and using Security Essentials and IE Tools (Internet options, programs, manage add-ons, disable all), but had no luck. Using Google I found a website, Wafflesatnoon.com, that offers free software to correct the problem, I am afraid of using free software.

I went to that site and didn't see any ads or anything else unusual. If this happens on all sites, it's possible you have some sort of browser-hijacker involved. My recommendation is to download and install MalwareBytes AntiMalware from malwarebytes.org/mwb-download.php. This will bring you to the download page with the download already initiated. Choose "Run." On the install, you don't need to click the "trial offer" at this time. The free version is all you need for routine checks and the only free software I ever recommend. Run a full scan and follow the recommendations. If the problems persist, use Windows Defender Offline to create a boot CD allowing you to boot into Windows without activating any resident virus and run a full scan on your hard drive. Find it at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/what-is-windows-defender-offline.

Do you think it's safe to allow Internet Explorer to remember your ID and passwords for stockbroker and banking sites?

Generally, no. But that only solves a very small piece of the problem. The news this week of Russian hackers obtaining over 1 billion ID's and passwords from many (unnamed yet) businesses, puts just about anyone who has ever used the Internet at risk. My recommendation is to change your passwords on all your related financial or commerce (eBay, Amazon) sites ASAP. Remember to create them using upper and lower case, include numbers and special characters (i.e. #, $, @) and change them often. We are seeing that there's no 100 percent protection. It is a game of technological leap-frog between the hackers and the available Internet security measures. Stay vigilant and be stingy with giving out personal information either online or in your day-to-day dealings.

Does Windows 8 have a repair disk function like Windows 7? I looked for it but could not find it and the "Restore Disks" did not have a repair option. HP said the only way of my problem was a "total restore."

Click the Windows key and type update and recovery. Click "Recovery options" on the right. Choose "Refresh your PC without affecting your files." Follow the instructions. It's probably a good idea to first back up all your personal data just in case.

Send questions to personaltech@tampabay.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Beware of browser hijack 08/08/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 7:28pm]

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