Pop-up advertisements that appear on your phone, computer or other device are considered by many people to be merely a nuisance, but they can also, in some circumstances, present a serious threat to your well being. While often the pop-up ads may be legitimate advertisements, they also can lure you into clicking on links and being directed to websites that either convince you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft or, in a worst case scenario, merely by either clicking on the link or being redirected to another website, you may unwittingly download malware such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can steal from your phone or computer sensitive personal information that can be used to access your bank account or make you a victim of identity theft in other ways.
Part of the problem is that many of these pop-up ads appear on websites that you trust, which is because the advertising on legitimate websites often originates with third party advertising companies that may not properly screen the advertising that they accept. A few years ago the Equifax website was infected with a phony Adobe Flash update pop-up that when clicked on downloaded malware.
The major browsers such as Google Chrome, Bing, Internet Explorer and Firefox all permit you to adjust your settings to eliminate pop-up ads from appearing and I can personally attest that adjusting your browser settings to avoid pop-up ads can be very effective. Unfortunately, the software used by these browsers as well as specific ad blocker apps is never going to be fully effective at blocking all pop-up ads. Malicious pop-ups that take advantage of newly discovered vulnerabilities will always be a problem, however if you adjust your browser settings to avoid pop-ups and keep your phone and computer security software updated with the latest security patches, you will go a long way toward keeping yourself safe.
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