Do you have pop ups? How to stop them, according to cyber security experts

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Pop-ups on your computer can be a sign of a malware infection, in some cases. (Photo: Getty)

When you come across a pop-up on your favorite website, it is certainly annoying. However, you can easily click that little X in the corner within seconds and continue your browsing. But when pop-ups randomly appear on your computer and you’re not browsing the web, it’s understandable that you’re alarmed. What’s going on here? And what exactly does this mean for your computer’s health? Cyber ​​security experts analyze it.

What is a pop-up, again?

Sure, the odds are high that you’ve at least seen a pop-up before, but you might be a little confused as to what they actually are. At a basic level, pop-ups are online ads that appear when you visit a website.

“A pop-up is a graphical display, usually a small window, that unexpectedly appears on your computer”, Mikko Laaksonen, chief executive officer of Responsible Cyber, he tells Yahoo Life. “The pop-up itself isn’t malicious, but it’s an ad.” Many websites use pop-ups to try to sell you something or offer you a promo code before you leave, and that’s harmless enough.

But sometimes pop-ups can be a sign that something is wrong with your computer. “Browser pop-ups can also indicate that there is unwanted code running on your device,” Joseph Steinberg, a cybersecurity and emerging technologies consultant, tells Yahoo Life. “Likewise, pop-ups that appear on your computer outside the bounds of a web browser are often the result of a malware infection.” (Malware, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is software created to harm your computer or network.) A program like Malwarebytes Premium could help keep you safe.

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While the pop-ups don’t appear to do anything to harm your computer, Steinberg points out that “unwanted adware is malware.” Basically, if pop-ups appear on your computer, it’s annoying at best and harmful at worst. Either way, you don’t want to delete it.

How to stop solution #1 1 of the pop-ups: Get anti-malware software

Laaksonen says anti-malware software is a “must”. Steinberg agrees, saying, “If you’re already running security software, run a full system scan for malware.” And if you’re not currently using security software on your computer, Steinberg recommends getting it as soon as possible.

One option: Malwarebytes Premium. This software helps protect you from malware attacks, online scams, and phishing schemes designed to steal your sensitive information, including login details and credit card numbers. Malwarebytes Premium can also warn you if you are visiting a suspicious site. Additionally, Malwarebytes Premium helps block sophisticated malware that other programs may not notice, providing an effective way to protect your devices and data.

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days free*

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Getting anti-malware software can help protect your computer from malware attacks. (Photo: Getty)

How to stop solution #1 Pop-ups #2: Check your web browser

Steinberg recommends checking your browser (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer) to make sure it does not have any proxy configured to intercept and forward web traffic or unwanted plug-ins.

“If this advice sounds like technical jargon to you, consider uninstalling and reinstalling your web browser,” suggests Steinberg. Basically, you may need to delete your current browser and reinstall it to get rid of the problem completely.

How to stop solution #1 Pop-ups #3: Don’t click on pop-ups

Clicking on the pop-up can make the problem even worse. “Don’t buy anything that’s offered to you in a popup through the popup. Don’t interact with the popup,” says Steinberg.

Laaksonen says that’s especially true if the pop-up promises you something, like money or a random prize. “It would help if you don’t click on unknown links and if you don’t open attachments that ask for a reward or anything you didn’t expect,” he says.

Man using tablet in front of desktop computer, smiling.

You don’t have to put up with pop-ups. (Photo: Getty)

How to stop pop-ups in the future

To block pop-ups along the way, Steinberg recommends practicing good computer hygiene — that is, making smart decisions online and using software to keep your computer malware-free. A few ways to do this, according to Steinberg:

  • Back up your computer and do it often. That way, if something goes wrong, you won’t panic about the lost data.

  • Encrypt sensitive data. Encryption is built into many versions of software packages, or you can use a free encryption tool.

  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware software. You don’t need to spend a ton for this, but you do want a package that is antivirus, antispam, and antimalware. Once you have it, run a scan often.

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days free*

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