If you browse the internet, odds are you're familiar with pop-ups. If you have email, odds are you are familiar with spam. These annoying ads come in many forms, but generally, they are trying to sell you something. Close the window or click to learn more. Harmless enough, right? Don't be fooled.
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While many pop-ups and emails from reputable companies are safe, the adware programs that generate illegitimate malware pop-ups and malware spam are capable of installing spyware to hijack your browser and capture your personal information.
How does malware infect your computer?
It's easy to become enticed by the offer on a pop-up ad. By the time you start seeing signs of a malware attack, your system is probably already infected. Messages with malware can arrive from many sources and in a variety of forms, including:
Being sent as an attachment through a spam email
Embedded as a file to download and open
Pop-up ads that appear, unwanted, on your screen
Mouse-over ads that appear when hovering over a webpage image or link
Linked to within the body of a message
Malware spam emails and instant messages will often try to mislead you into clicking an attached file or a link within the email, which then initiates the download. However, sometimes simply opening the message itself starts the download process and can result in the commonly seen mass attack ads, delivering eight or more malware pop-ups at once and making life very difficult for a computer user.
What is the purpose of malware?
Common malware, adware, and spyware attacks use your system as a form of cost-shifted advertising, placing the ownership burden onto your system and take a massive toll on internet users' time, resources, and the system integrity of your internet service provider (ISP).
If your inbox is full of messages from people or companies you don't recognize, you may have malware on your computer. Email and instant messaging have become increasingly favored channels among spyware villains for spreading malicious code. Our experts estimate that 85 billion spam email messages are sent every single day.
How to prevent malware damage
One simple way you can prevent malware damage from spam is to practice safe email protocol:
Don't open email or text messages from unknown senders
Immediately delete the message you suspect are spam
Avoid get rich quick offers, porn or too-good-to-be-true messages
Never "unsubscribe" from spam email as this just validates your email address.
How to prevent pop-ups and the damage they can cause
There are a few simple things you can do right away to prevent pop-ups and avoid further spyware infection:
Avoid clicking pop-ups, even to close them. Instead, close pop-ups from the system tray area with a right mouse click.
Update your operating system regularly
Increase your browser security settings
Avoid questionable websites
Improve your overall online security
Make sure that you have the best security software products installed on your PC:
- Use antivirus protection and a firewall
An unprotected computer is like an open door for pop-ups infected with spyware. For more potent protection from malware spam and pop-ups, use antispyware software and a pop-up blocking application. Products like Webroot Internet Security Plus and Webroot Antivirus thwart spyware before it can enter your PC, stand guard at every possible entrance of your computer and fend off any spyware that tries to enter, even the most damaging and devious strains.
While free pop-up blocker downloads are available, they just can’t keep up with the continuous onslaught of new pop-up adware and spyware strains. Choose a pop-up blocker that can detect and block even the trickiest ads, including mouse-overs, mass attacks, and timed pop-ups. Previously undetected forms of these malicious threats can often do the most damage, so it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute, guaranteed protection.