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HijackThis. - A general Homepage Hijacker Detector and Removal Tool. By: Tahira Farid 60-564 Project 1 Fall 2004. Overview. Browser Hijacking and Why The Techniques Preventing a Hijack HijackThis- A Hijack Removal Tool Download Information Getting around with the tool.

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- A general Homepage Hijacker Detector and Removal Tool

By: Tahira Farid

60-564 Project 1

Fall 2004

  • Browser Hijacking and Why
  • The Techniques
  • Preventing a Hijack
  • HijackThis- A Hijack Removal Tool
  • Download Information
  • Getting around with the tool
overview cont
Overview (cont.)
  • Testing
  • Summary
  • Important things learnt
  • Useful Links
  • References
what is browser hijacking
What is Browser Hijacking?
  • Where browser’s default settings is forcibly modified by using scripting tools
  • Spyware takes over our internet settings, Redirects our searches and steals our homepage
  • adding links to favourites
  • changing homepage persistently

- scripting

- changing registry values

- auto-running programs

- secret files put on the hard disk

why hijacking
Why Hijacking?
  • Bring us back to a website or a sponsor’s site of Hijacker’s choice
  • Generate advertising revenues
  • Keep users trapped in their sites
  • Expand website’s traffic
  • Is it Reversible?

-as easy as to switch the internet options back

-as crucial as to undo the changes by going to windows registry

the techniques
The Techniques
  • Multiple Windows pop-ups while leaving the site
  • Windows half off screen hard to close and allows no control
  • Offering “freebies” in their sites
  • Installing AOL software, messenger, ICQ adds http://free.aol.com to IE’s trusted sites zone without our permission-can download activeX, run scripts, perform various actions.
  • Removing internet options from tool menu and control panel
  • Changing reg settings to reset homepage
  • Installing program to reset homepage on reboot
preventing hijack
Preventing Hijack
  • Various anti-hijacking and anti-virus tools available.
  • HijackThis- utility tool to remove browser hijacks, viruses, trojans & spyware
  • Does not target specific prog./URLs
  • Targets methods used by hijackers
  • Developed by Marijn
  • Freeware
  • 178 KB
  • latest version: 1.98.2
  • Intended for advanced users
  • Increasingly updated to detect & remove new hijacks
  • Runs on all windows OS
download info caution
Download Info & caution
  • http://www.spychecker.com/program/hijackthis.html
  • Required to place it in its own folder otherwise backups will not be made.
  • Recommended to be used after running spybot or spyware/hijacker remover- malware files will be left behind.
  • Requires knowledge in windows and OS in general.
  • If deleted entries without knowing- problems as IE not working, running windows.
caution cont
Caution (cont)
  • Scans registry and various files in HD.
  • Entries similar to what a spyware/hijacker program would leave behind
  • Interpreting the results can be tricky.
  • Legitimate programs get installed in similar way hijackers get installed.
  • Extra causion should be taken fixing a problem.
getting started
Getting started
  • Go to the desired

folder where hijackthis

was created from zip

unpack. Double click

on hijackthis.exe

scan results
Scan results
  • Each line

starts with

a section


info on selected items
Info on selected items
  • To know info

about a

selected obj

fix entries
Fix entries
  • Select an

item to


restoring items deleted mistakenly
Restoring items deleted mistakenly
  • We can make

backup & restore

items for erroneous

scenarios for

items which were

removed but


  • Under config


generating startup listing
Generating startup listing
  • Has a built-in tool

to generate listing

of all the prog that

launch when comp


  • Under config,

Misc tools option.

process manager
Process Manager
  • Built-in tool to

1) Kill processes that

are currently running

2) Check what DLLs

are loaded in a

particular process

  • Under config,

Misc tools option

hosts file manager
Hosts File Manager
  • View our host file,
  • Delete lines
  • Toggle lines on/off
  • HijackThis will

add a “#” sign

before the line

to comment it

out so that it will not

be used by Windows.

delete on reboot
Delete on reboot
  • Sometimes files

obstinately reject

to get deleted from

the system by any

traditions means.

  • Could be virus/


  • HijackThis allows

windows to delete

the file on reboot.

hijackthis log
HijackThis log
  • Each line on the

scan list starts

with a section name

  • Each entry has a

2-letter code to say

what it is.

  • Windows XP SP2
  • Running spybot S&D, ad-aware
  • Specific problem in IE: always redirects to
  • Even using spybot S&D, AboutBuster, Spywareblaster, Ad-awareproblem was still there
  • Following entries were deleted after scan:
  • O2 - BHO: (no name) - {549B5CA7-4A86-11D7-A4DF-000874180BB3} - (no file)

02 entries refers to BHO- plugins for browser that extend the functionality of it. Used by spyware & legitimate programs.

CLSID refers to reg. entries that contains info about BHO/toolbars. This particular entry means the entry exists in the registry but the associated file does not exist. Therefore cleaned to tidy up the registry.

testing cont
Testing (cont.)
  • R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page =
  • R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL =
  • R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL =
  • R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page =
  • R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Local Page =
  • R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Local Page =

R0,R1 entries refer to IE start page & search functions. The url R0, R1 are pointing to is unwanted. Therefore cleaned to get rid of it.

testing cont1
Testing (cont.)
  • O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [SysTime]  startup itemC:\WINDOWS\system32\systime.exe  Trojan downloaded
  • O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [SysTime] C:\WINDOWS\system32\systime.exe

04 entries refer to app that are listed in certain keys in reg/startup folders and are loaded automatically when windows starts.

Here 04 entry shows a CoolWebSearch Trojan. Therefore fixed by HijackThis. The corresponding file

C:\WINDOWS\system32\systime.exewas deleted by running windows on safe mode after fixing with HijackThis.

testing cont2
Testing (cont.)
  • O16 - DPF: {15AD4789-CDB4-47E1-A9DA-992EE8E6BAD6} - http://public.windupdates.com/get_file.php...edceabcca450006

016 entries refer to ActiveX obj-programs that are downloaded from websites and stored in our computer. Also referenced in the reg by their CLSID.

Here the object/URL could not be recognized from where it was downloaded. Therefore cleaned by HijackThis. HijackThis also deletes the offending file from C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files-

where the these types of objects are stored.

testing cont3
Testing (cont.)
  • Booting with safe mode following file was deleted
  • C:\WINDOWS\system32\systime.exe
  • Temp internet files were deleted
  • System rebooted normally, Ad-aware was run to do some more cleanup.
  • No bad entries were found in the new log.
  • HijackThis is a very powerful tool to root out serious infestation or attack in our system.
  • we should be cautious enough, since incorrectly removing inappropriate objects can cause problems with legitimate programs and compromise our system.
  • Many online forums & tutorials for inspecting logfiles.
  • Useful links available for CLSID, startup lists.
  • we need a great deal of devotion, commitment and knowledge towards our system security.
  • HijackThis by itself can not make our system secure from Hijackers, we need other relevant tools as well to detect and remove spyware and viruses.
important things learnt
Important things learnt

In order to keep computer clean and secure:

  • Make our Internet Explorer more secure by customizing security options.
  • Use an AntiVirus Software
  • Use Spyware & Malware remover utility tools

Spybot S&D, Ad-aware, CWShredder , HijackThis, SpywareBluster

  • Update our AntiVirus Software
  • Use a Firewall
  • Visit Microsoft's Windows Update Site Frequently
  • Update all these programs regularly
useful links
Useful links
  • HijackThis log file analysis:


  • TonyK's Browser Helper Obj (BHO) & Toolbar list:


  • PacMan's Start-up list to find the entry and see if it's good or bad.


  • http://www.spywareinfo.com/%7Emerijn/htlogtutorial.html
  • http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/index.php?showtut orial=42#RDiag