Alarming Pop-ups: how to handle a browser hijacking

When browsing various website on the Internet, you might come across pop-ups – a common occurrence, and frankly, a nuisance. Some pop-ups are the sales chat window, some are advertisements. But there are also other, malicious types: false ads and scareware – the type that announces that “your system is infected” or “missing a critical component”, proclaiming a doomsday for your computer.

Do these pop-ups really mean your computer is messed up?

Maybe not just yet. Sometimes the browser pop-ups look legitimate, saying they’re from Microsoft or another major technology company, scaring you into believing that your computer is infected and needs an emergency intervention. Crooks apply social engineering principals into persuading you to click on the pop-up – in this case, your computer will be messed up, because clicking on the malicious ad could lead to what is called a browser hijacking: your system will be infected, contrary to the what the pop-up message claimed.

2 ways to curb the malicious pop-ups when they appear

Ctrl+Alt+Delete Method

  • Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Delete in that order until you’re holding down all three at once.
  • This will bring up a Windows screen with a couple of options.
  • Click on Task Manager link
  • When Task Manager appears, go to Processes.
  • From here, click the Processes tab and look for the active browser you are experiencing the alarming pop-up in, like Internet Explorer or Chrome. Right-click on that process and click End Task.
  • The system will try to end the browser session – when asked to end task, choose “End Task” each time the message appears (You may need to repeat this process until it physically ends). Make sure when restarting the browser, choose NOT to restore your pages or tabs to avoid the pop-up being introduced again – and stay away from the page that gave you this trouble in the first place.

Cold Restart Method

This method is easier, but it is recommended as a last resort.

  • Hold down the power button on your computer for several seconds until it turns off (and not just goes to the sleep mode.) This will force your computer to shut down and stop whatever might have been happening.
  • Press the power button again to turning your computer back on again.
  • When prompted, select “Start Up Windows Normally.”
  • Important: depending on your individual settings, the browser may display a message asking if you want to return to your previous session – choose “No”. You will lose tabs or browser windows that you had open prior to restart.
  • Do not return to the previously opened web pages to avoid malicious pop-up to be reintroduced.

These two methods should help you with the pop-ups, but make sure to run a virus scan on your computer. If you experience any suspicious issues like your browser home page is different or other odd details present themselves, we recommend contacting your primary New Jersey IT services company to make sure your computer is not compromised.

Practice good prevention methods: avoid websites with a bad reputation, be careful about downloading and installing unknown programs or applications, learn  how to set your browser to block pop-ups, and install defensive software.

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