Has your PC slowed to a snail’s pace or your browser’s home page redirected to some weird site? Chances are you’ve been hijacked. Constant pop-ups are a warning sign. To stop them propagating, hold down Ctrl, Alt, Del, choose Task Manager, then Processes. Select ieexplore.exe and click End Process.
Now, close the lid on those pop-ups for good. Internet Explorer 7.0 has a built-in pop-up blocker. To turn it on, choose Tools, Internet Options, then click the Privacy tab. Check the box for Turn On Pop-Up Blocker. To allow pop-ups from certain sites, click Settings and create a safe list. You can also choose a level of protection.
If you want to recover the original browser settings, choose Tools, Internet Options, Advanced. Click Reset and then Reset again. Choose Close, ok, then close the browser. Be warned, this will save your Favourites, but erase your custom settings and browsing history – including saved passwords and form data.
Microsoft offers a free online protection scan. Head to tinyurl.com/2c9es7 and click Protection Scan to install the software and give your system a scrub. Ensure Windows Defender is installed (tinyurl.com/47cus) and run it regularly to identify and remove rogue programs. Empty the Recycle Bin and reboot.
Malevolent browser add-ons can cause security headaches. Check your browser add-on list by choosing Tools, Manage Add-ons, Enable or Disable Add-ons. Much of the list will probably be familiar, but if you don’t recognise something then search online for it. If it sounds hostile then select it, click Settings, Disable, ok.
If you’re still having problems, try HijackThis (tinyurl.com/nekfv). HijackThis detects nasty programs vying for control of your PC. It produces a log file, which you should post to the forums at tinyurl.com/2z3ewt. Volunteers will suggest what you should do next, usually within 72 hours.