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Murphy's Law: Pop-ups on Your Computer

April 16, 2009
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The NEWS had such great response to a recent blog about computer protection that we have a few more hints that might come in handy for keeping your computer clean.

Let’s start with one of the most pervasive scams on the Internet. How often do you see pop-ups on your screen? Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, Java? They all would seem to be relatively harmless, and who would not want to update their printer if HP offered?

Here is the catch. The pop-ups often are not coming from the source you may think. If you really want to update your software, go directly to the manufacturer’s Website and perform the update there - don’t click on the pop-up. If for some reason you can’t get the pop-up to disappear, shut down the computer and reboot. It might sound like a pain in the butt, but rather a little pain than a lot of headaches later.

Here is one quick way you can determine whether a link is taking you where you think you are headed, or if somebody is trying to scam you.

While in your browser, go to View and click on Status Bar. That will display a bar on your screen that shows the site you are about to visit as you move your mouse across a link. Once you have that set up, here is a little test you will find quite interesting.

Type “Hewlett-Packard” in your search browser. One of the links at the top of your search will be “HP Official Store” with an address of www.shopping.hp.com. Sounds harmless right? As you slide your mouse across the link you will notice that your screen’s status bar is blank. That means you aren’t going where you think you are - you are not going to the HP site. It might be harmless, but somebody is trying to trick you. So, how much do you trust that source now?

Pop-ups will work the same way. If you think you’re going to an Adobe site for an update, slide your mouse on the link and watch what happens in your status bar before you click.

Bottom line: use the manufacturer site for updates.

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