Pop-up ads aren’t the massive problem they once were, but they’re still a nuisance. And because most reputable sites now steer clear of them, a lot of the pop-ups that do still exist have the potential to carry malware.
The best way to avoid pop-ups is to adjust the settings on your web browser to prevent those annoying pages from opening. For the major browsers the process is virtually the same. In Firefox, go to your preferences, then select ‘Content’ and check off the box to ‘Block pop-up windows.’ There is an ‘Exceptions’ button you can click to allow sites you know and trust to produce pop-ups. In Safari you’ll find the ‘Block pop-up windows’ box under the security tab of preferences; in Internet Explorer, click on ‘Internet Options’ in settings, then click the ‘Privacy’ tab and check the ‘Turn on Pop-up Blocker’ box. If you’re using Google Chrome, follow the same initial steps by going to the browser’s settings, then scrolling down to Privacy; there, click on the ‘Content Settings’ tab and scroll down to the Pop-ups section. Here you can allow or disallow popups and manage exceptions you wish to make.
If and when potentially malicious popups do open, don’t click on them, even if you’re trying to close them. Instead, close them by right-clicking your mouse and closing them from the menu.
Of course the next best way, and the safest way of all, to avoid popups is to practice safe web behavior — don’t visit sites that you don’t know and trust, and don’t click on ads that look like spam. Similarly, don’t open attachments in emails from senders you don’t recognize, including those that are forwarded to you from trusted sources but come originally from people or entities that you do not know. That’s how a lot of viruses are transmitted.
If you do start to get popups on your computer despite taking the above steps your system may well be infected, so it is important to always have a robust antivirus software, to update it regularly and to routinely scan your system for infections. And of course, as always, keeping your browsers and other system software continually updated is the best way to keep your system safe.