Sunday, October 4, 2015

Eliminate Aggressive Web Browser Popups Like PC Keeper

A friend asked me for help to get rid of an aggressive popup on his web browser.  It had completely hijacked his computer.  I am sharing this experience because computers are household appliances and you can fix this problem without calling for help if you have a few ideas you can try yourself.

First, let me describe the problem.  Someone in your household stumbles across a website that pops up a page claiming to be from a company called PC Keeper. The popup declares you have a virus and you must download PC Keeper to get rid of your virus.  It is like extortion:  download this  product or else your computer is ours and you cannot have it back.  First of all, who knows who is really behind the popup.  It might be PC Keeper and it might not.   So let's just focus on the generic problem:  Something has hijacked your computer through your web browser.  In this case the browser was Mozilla Firefox.  Look around on the internet under "PC Keeper Virus" and you will see a lot of people have run into this problem, including users of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

This aggressive popup covers the whole computer screen and locks up you computer.  You cannot use Task Manger to kill Firefox.  You cannot even restart your computer.  What I did might not be the best way to fix the problem, but it worked.

Step 1:  Press on your on/off button on your computer until it shuts down.  This will take longer than normal because the aggressive popup is fighting with your OS.  Be patient and continue holding that button down. Until it finally shuts off.  If it never shuts off, you can always flip the power switch on the computer plug strip.

Step 2:  Disconnect your computer from the internet.  I disconnected the Ethernet cable from the back of the PC.  If your household has a wireless connection to the infected computer, then can disconnect your computer from your wireless tower by finding the list of wireless connections available to your computer and disconnecting from your wireless tower/modem.

Step 3:  Start your computer.  Then open Firefox, which will try to relaunch the rogue popup, but it will fail because your computer is now disconnected from the internet.  Now you have control of your browser again and you can close all the tabs.  I don't remember if the popup appeared.  I don't think it did because the tab that had the website that launched the popup could not reach the internet.  The list has, connect/disconnect, for each connection.

I ran a virus scan on the Mozilla folders in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox and found nothing, so I did not think there was a virus as such, but I was afraid Mozilla was corrupted.

Step 4:  I went to the My Computer > Add/Remove programs and I uninstalled Firefox.  Then I used a different browser to download and reinstall Firefox.  Everything seemed okay at this point.

Part of the problem with an aggressive popup like this is that Firefox has a terrible feature that is exploited by these people who hijack your computer:  When you kill the computer, restart the computer, and reopen Firefox, then Firefox will have saved all the tabs that were open when you crashed your computer and Firefox will relaunch the aggressive popup

You ought to get familiar with this because when your browser is hijacked then you cannot search for help.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Remember:  Power off your computer, disconnect from the internet,  restart the browser and close all the tabs in your browser.  Always have more than one browser because you might need one to reinstall another.

Computers are household appliances and you need to know how to fix some of the problems you encounter.  Good luck!

You might want to find a way to disable popups on your browser.  Google for instructions.  Also, the pop up might be from malware instead of from your browser.  When you read an article on your web browser, you might want to avoid clicking on anything that appears on that page.  What looks like another interesting article might be a trap to launch malware or vicious pop ups. The web is increasingly dangerous.

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