Q: I use Google Chrome as my web browser. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of pop-ups for things called MapsandDrivingDirection, Weatherforecaster and Cleverpush.
Messages from these items appear all the time and make it hard for me to use my computer because I have to keep closing the pop-ups to get to my desktop. How can I get rid of them?
— Inge Perrine, Vero Beach
A: According to research, the items listed above are all forms of malware known as “social engineering attackers.”
These are viruses that trick you into subscribing to their notification services, which ultimately do little more than produce an onslaught of advertisements and pop-ups via browser call outs and desktop messages.
In addition to this, the malware also can change your browser settings (set a new homepage without you knowing it, alter your bookmarks, etc.) and redirect you to sites of its choosing without notice.
As you can imagine, to get rid of these items you will need to remove them from your system. Specific instructions for doing so for each of the infections listed above can be found at the URLs below:
After performing the steps listed on the URLs above, and if you already haven’t done so previously, please download and install the free version of MalwareBytes, an anti-malware scanner, from this URL: malwarebytes.com. Install the program, run a full system scan and delete any items that appear after the fact.
Once done, the machine should be back to normal and those messages should no longer appear. If they do return, contact a local repair shop for additional help.
It should be noted social engineering attackers typically find their way onto computers as bloatware.
Bloatware is the term given to third-party programs that get bundled and installed along with a title you are installing at the same time. For example, if you’ve ever installed a new printer and noticed that after installation you have both the printer’s software and several other titles now on your machine, this is bloatware, and as you can tell by this example, not all of it is malicious.
Because most people tend to race through the installation process of any given program, they typically do not realize they are sometimes installing additional items along the way. These items are usually set to install by default, so if you hurry through the installation and agree to everything you are presented with, then you will find those items installed and it will be up to you to remove them after the fact.
That’s how bloatware, and social engineering attackers, typically get on your system.
To avoid this from happening, simply proceed through any installation at a slower pace. By doing this, you will often notice when the installation prompts for bloatware appear and you will also have the option to accept or deny their installation at that point.
Untangling the web
“On-Line Carnival & Flea Market.” That’s the tagline to this off-beat and homespun-looking destination, created by Dave Ahl, founder of Creative Computing and author of multiple books on technology.
The site essentially consists of smorgasbord of links, offering everything from unique sale items (such as collectibles, books, patriotic items and more), offbeat humor pages, tips on investing, fun surveys, galleries of cute cat pictures, links to charitable causes and more. Think of it as a down-to-earth digital equivalent of a neighborhood flea market.