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You Are In Danger, But Not Really

So picture this: you are browsing along, checking out websites, maybe ordering some stuff, then all of a sudden a flashy pop up appears on your screen.  Its bright red letters tell you that your computer has been infected, all your information is in danger, and you must call this number or download this software right away or you will lose everything.  Perhaps a robotic voice is suddenly coming from your computer repeating similar warnings.

Sound familiar?  If so, then you have already encountered what has been termed as Scareware.  These malicious pop ups are covertly inserted into websites all over the internet.  Although effectively harmless, they are designed to be very frightening in order to get you to respond to their “warnings”, thus leading you into the hands of scammers who will try to steal your information or hijack your computer.  Good website administrators routinely check their sites for any unwanted pop ups, so any site that is infected should eventually get cleaned off.  Sadly, the pop ups, like infectious diseases, bounce around the internet and can show up almost anywhere.

Dealing with the pop ups is actually quite easy: use your device’s Task Manager (for Windows) or Force Quit (for Apple) to shut down your browser, then relaunch your browser but do not restore any webpages or resume any sessions, just start fresh.  If a webpage you are going to keeps giving you these pop ups, then avoid going to that webpage for a day or two and see if the admins fix it.  Whatever you do, never interact with pop up, do not download any software it recommends, and absolutely do not call any numbers it gives you.

More details on handling Scareware:
What Is Scareware? Detection, Prevention, and Removal
What is the “ransomware detected” pop-up?
Fake Website popup scams – Scareware

Disclaimer: Some of these articles are published by security software companies that recommend their products in the tips.  Security software will help with Scareware but you don’t need to use any particular one, most of them will do just fine