Strange pop-ups and other malware
Common symptoms of malware
If you're seeing suspicious pop-ups, unwanted toolbars, redirects, strange Google search results, or other unexpected behavior on your computer, you may have been tricked into installing malicious software (also known as 'malware') on your computer. In this article, we've provided some recommendations on how you can prevent and remove malware. (Note that Google isn't affiliated with any of the programs we suggest in this article, and we're unable to vouch for their effectiveness. Our users have told us they often work.)
If clicking a Google search result has redirected you to a suspicious site, please report the suspicious site before trying the anti-spyware software below. This will help us investigate malware activity and hopefully help prevent it in the future.
First, use anti-spyware software to detect and remove malware from your computer
The following programs can remove the most common malware. You may need to try more than one to catch every instance of malware on your computer. Make sure to use the latest versions of these programs.
- Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
- ESET Smart Security
- Kaspersky Lab Internet Security
- MacScan (for Mac users)
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Norton Internet Security
Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
Still having trouble? Try these more advanced techniques
READ THIS FIRST: These techniques involve some advanced steps, like reviewing and analyzing logs produced by your computer. If you're not sure how to take these steps properly, you may want to consult a technician. Deleting legitimate lines in your HijackThis log can have serious repercussions for your computer.Use a bootable anti-virus rescue CD to scan your computer
If the malware is preventing your computer from starting properly, you may want to use a bootable anti-virus CD to scan and clean your files. This method of scanning your computer helps detect malware that may be deeply embedded within your system files. Such malware may go undetected when using normal anti-virus detection methods.
Many people have used HijackThis, an advanced anti-spyware application, to find settings on their computers that may have been changed by malware. HijackThis will create a log of files and settings that you should then analyze, to determine if they have been affected by malware.
Here are some support forums where you can post your HijackThis log and receive technical assistance. Google isn't affiliated with these forums, and we can't make any promises about the quality of the advice they might provide.
After using HijackThis, run anti-spyware programs again, such as the ones listed above, to see if additional malware shows up.
System Restore is a Windows backup feature; it periodically backs up files on your computer in case you need to revert to an earlier version of your operating system at a later point. If the malware was inadvertently included in a system restore point, you'll need to disable System Restore, before anti-spyware programs can remove the malware. Here's how:
- Clear your browser's cache. See instructions
- Disable the System Restore functionality on your computer (administrative rights required).
- Go to the Start menu.
- Select Control Panel.
- Double-click System.
- Click the System Restore tab.
- Select the 'Turn off System Restore' checkbox.
- Restart your computer.
- Run anti-spyware programs again to see if additional malware shows up.
- Once you're done checking your system files for malware, remember to re-enable System Restore.
If you continue to experience symptoms of malware at this point, consult a technician for additional help.
Practice safe browsing to avoid malware
To prevent malware from infiltrating your computer in the future, follow these general best practices:
- Upgrade your computer to use the latest operating systems and software.
- Turn on automatic updates for your operating system.
- Turn on automatic updates for your programs. Regularly check for updates for programs that don't have automatic update functionality, such as Adobe Flash.
- Don't click on links you don't know the destination of.
- Don't download email attachments from anyone you don't know.
- Sign in to user accounts with limited permissions on your computer. This lessens the ability of malware to make system-wide changes to your computer.
- Install a firewall and antivirus software, ensuring automatic updates are enabled.
- If you use an email program on your computer to send and receive messages, install spam filtering software. Many email programs also come with built-in spam filters.
If you feel you were deceived when you installed a program that creates popups or modifies your browser, you may want to file a complaint at StopBadware.org. Additionally, you may want to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices in the U.S. To file a complaint, do one of the following:
- Visit //www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
- Call 1-877-FTC-HELP
- Write to: Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, D.C. 20580
If your complaint is against a company that's outside the United States, visit http://www.econsumer.gov.