What Are Pop-Ups?

The overall definition of a pop-up is a browser window that appears out of nowhere as you are viewing content on the web. There are also programs known as pop-unders, which display windows behind your web browser window. While they are generated by the same type of programming, some consider them totally different as pop-unders do not appear to b as intrusive. However, when you consider the level of annoyance they present, pop-ups and pop-unders are essentially one in the same.

Types of Pop-ups

There are three primary types of pop-ups: those that appear when clicking something on a web page, those that appear at random, and those that appear without user intervention, the most aggravating variation. More often than not, these busy windows exclusively display ads for content the user has no interest in. Sometimes the advertisements are highly offensive or even worse, adult oriented. A pop-up could also be a malicious program in disguise such as a Trojan horse. These are traps that display warnings in the form of security alerts, hoping you will click the window and download undesirable content on your system.

You might also encounter similar windows that are not actually pop-ups. In this instance, the entire page displayed within the browser window contains no content and is not a real page at all. Instead, there is a graphic within it that appears to be another pop-up window. This is a very confusing scheme that tries to lure users into clicking malicious content. The simulated pop-up and the page behind it are actually part of a full-screen advertisement hosting a spyware trap. These fake pop-ups should be treated with extreme caution as they can eventually become much more than an annoyance.

Though very rare, some legitimate companies will deploy what they term as desirable or useful pop-ups on their site. Some online businesses use them as marketing tools to display visitor response forms and licensing agreement terms. While they do not function maliciously, these pop-ups can be just as annoying.

Working Around Pop-ups

Pop-ups can be a tremendous annoyance, but there are ways to deal with them. Your best bet would to be to close the window and not interact with it at all. Interaction includes following any link it is trying to redirect you to, which could be a site hosting a Trojan horse or spyware.

The cardinal rule to closing out a pop-up is to do so without clicking anywhere within the window itself - regardless of what the message displays. The "X" button should be your first option, usually found at the top right corner of the window. Alternatively, you can right-click the corresponding taskbar button and select "close" on the menu that displays. Sometimes, the close button may be concealed on the edge of your screen. If this is the case, try to carefully pull the pop-up window by the title bar and find the close box.

All pop-ups aren't harmful but they are something you may want to avoid. Following these links could easily lead you to a nasty infection. If anything, they will slow down your production online. Fortunately, there are many pop-up blockers on the market from paid and free solutions to the integrated tools of your web browser.


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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser