If you are a regular internet user, you must be familiar with pop-ups. These annoying ads come in various forms, but generally try to sell their product or make the user click on innocuously looking link. Harmless enough, right?
Don’t be fooled. While many such pop-ups and emails from reputable companies are safe, the adware programs that generate illegitimate malware pop-ups and spam are capable of installing viruses, trojans etc. These malwares can hack your system, capture sensitive personal information, relay live videos / audio and much more.
Malware is short form of malicious software. It is often software but can also appear in form of script or code. It is often used by malicious elements to in-filtrate, damage or disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information or break into computer devices.
Malware is a general term which refers to different forms of hostile, intrusive or annoying soft-wares. It includes trojan horses, spyware, adware, root-kits, viruses and other malicious programs. Most of the malwares disguise themselves as having some benign function, and may come from reputable sites/ mails.
Some of them track your activities, show pop-ups, redirect sites etc. They can reinstall themselves after removal or hide themselves deep with the system to make them difficult to find and clean.
How does Malware Infect Your Computer?
It’s easy to get enticed by the offer of pop-up ads. By the time you start seeing signs of a malware attack, your system shall probably get compromised beyond repair. Spam and pop-ups laden with malwares can arrive from different sources in a variety of forms, including:
What are Fake Pop Ups:
You must have noticed a variety of pop-ups appearing on the computer screens. They are usually generated by websites to guide user, provide useful information, offer newsletters etc. In short, they are meant to be useful – to help in filling out forms, to apply for discount code etc. However, not all pop-ups are useful and benign. For example, a pop-up installed by malwares can entices the user to click on a button that redirects to a phishing page.
Some of the pop-ups display false security warning as part of pop-up scam e.g., Ransom-ware pop-up. An example:
Error Code #13987t34F9 (Unauthorized access)
Region: Punjab, India
Compromised Information: Debit card details, Email account details
Action: Do Not Shut Your Computer, Call Us for Expert Opinion
Call Help Desk: (Toll Free) for Free Checkup.
You should not respond back to such illegitimate pop-ups.
How do Pop-up Scams Work?
As shown above, fake pop-ups are generated by cyber criminals using malwares. The pop-ups flag fake security issue, virus attack, technical problem with the system or anything else which is alarming enough to make the user feel insecure and look for immediate solution. Generally, the scammer, instructs the victim to call a phone number shown in the pop-up, in order to demand payment for technical support to resolve the non-existent threat.
Thus, cyber criminals use these pop-ups to extort money from concerned users who want to fix their problems and resolve threats that do not exist.
How to Identify Fake Pop-ups:
Following is the procedure we suggest, to know the veracity of the pop-up in question:
How to Remove Fake Pop-ups:
Step 1: Click on Ctrl+Alt+Del and select “Task Manager”.
Step 2: Choose the browser in which pop-up was detected.
Step 3: Click “’End Task” to close the selected browser.
Step 4: When you re-open the browser, ensure that you don’t restore the pages.
To remove the malware that led to illegitimate pop-up, follow these steps:
How to Protect Against Pop-up Scams:
If you spot a fake pop-up, do the following to avoid being scammed:
How to Prevent Fake Pop-ups:
So, how can to prevent fake pop-ups from appearing at the first place?