QUESTION: I’m constantly getting pop-up notifications from all kinds of websites on my computer. Does this mean that I have a virus?
ANSWER: The currency of the internet is often referred to as “eyeballs” because getting the attention of the user is a key way to generate revenue.
You’ve probably noticed that a large number of websites you visit pop-up a request to send you notifications with the option to Allow or Cancel.
If you’ve ever clicked on Allow, this authorization is now in your browser’s settings, which I’ll address in a bit.
There are a variety of ways that these notifications can be generated and in some cases, it may be malicious in nature.
Any pop-up notification that has no relationship to the website you’re currently visiting or any websites that you have visited in the past, may be rogue.
They likely managed to sneak into your browser’s notification settings to add themselves to your approved notifications.
It’s also possible that your browser has been compromised with malware labeled by the security companies as a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program).
If you have an Internet security program, it should be able to scan your computer for this type of malware — Microsoft Defender is part of Windows, for instance.
If you aren’t sure you have this capability or want more extensive tools, Malwarebytes free anti-spyware scanner (https://bit.ly/3dYJrl2) does an excellent job of scanning your system for PUPs.
Managing notifications in Chrome
To access the notification setting in Chrome, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right section, then click on Settings -> Privacy and security -> Site Settings -> Notifications.
In this screen, you’ll see notifications that are being blocked or allowed with three dots to the right of each entry. This is where you can remove or block websites that are currently in the “Allow” section.
You can also turn off the ability for any website to ask to send you notifications in the future.
Managing notifications in Edge
Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of any browser window and then click on Settings -> Cookies and site permissions to access the controls, which are similar to Chrome’s options.
Managing notifications in Firefox
Click on the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner and then on Settings- > Privacy & Security. Scroll down to the Permissions section, then click on the Notifications button to access all your options.
You can remove all websites with one button or remove individual websites by clicking on each one, then clicking the ‘Remove Website’ button. To disable future requests, check the box in front of “Block new requests asking to allow notifications.”
Managing notifications in Safari
Mac users that prefer Apple’s default browser can access notification settings by clicking on the “Safari” menu in the upper left, then on “Preference.”
Click on the “Websites” icon on the top menu bar and then scroll down to “Notifications” for the ability to any remove existing websites and to remove the checkmark from “Allow websites to ask for permission to send notifications.”
While you’re there, click on the “Pop-up Windows” menu just below to make sure you don’t have any unwanted websites with the ability to generate pop-ups.
Keep in mind, you may want notification to be sent from sites like web-based email or your favorite news site, which you can manually add to your browser’s notification settings.