Pop-Ups, the Bane of the Internet

Just when you have immersed yourself in a webpage, up pops an ad. This aggravation represents just one type of popup, and while generally harmless, your thought process or task-on-hand has been interrupted. No device is sacred; pop-ups appear on both desktop browsers and smartphones, including both iPhone and Android users. 

To get the reader’s attention, popups can range from the promise of a monetary prize if you “ACT NOW” and provide your email address and password, to fake close/cancel buttons that perform unexpected or unauthorized actions. Unfortunately, pop-ups can bypass a web browser’s ad blocker because they are not normal ads.  Besides the aggravation they cause, there are other issues with popups. Symantec, a cybersecurity firm, has identified a specific strain of malware hiding in legitimate apps causing scams to pop up. There is also another type of popup ad that may cause issues known as forced redirects. According to Confiant, an anti-malware company, when a user is surfing the web and without taking any action, the malware forces the browser to redirect to a different website. 

Pop-up ad windows have been a major problem plaguing the internet since the 1990s. Even today, pop-ups continue to overwhelm the internet user, despite pop-up blockers available in both Chrome and Firefox. Last year Google planned to push out an update to Chrome that would stop these pop-up ads from coming through, but these bothersome ads continue to find a way. Firefox has a browser extension that works to help block these annoyances as well. Once these forced redirects are officially blocked, the number of the ads will be reduced dramatically. However, these updates and extensions, while helpful, are not always able to stop the ads or apps (with malware inside) them from interfering with your browsing experience. Users must be diligent about routinely removing old or suspicious apps from all devices to protect against malicious ads. 

Author: Aaron Alter, IT User Services Support  

References:  

Morse, J. (2018, April 04). Those annoying ‘Congratulations Amazon User’ ads are more dangerous than you think. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://mashable.com/2018/04/03/congratulations-pop-up-ads-malware/#JDZ5okddJGqh 

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