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The “Microsoft Critical Alert” virus: a quick solution to disable it

 

By Simon Davies

Many readers will have encountered the “Microsoft critical alert” virus on their browsers. This tech support scam hijacks your browser with an audio pop-up that loudly advises you to call a “toll free” number with the threat that failure to do so will result in your computer being disabled.

The more advanced versions of this attack actually do disable some functions of your machine, such as trackpad functionality. The pop-ups are extremely hard to close because they are, in fact, two intersecting pop-ups, one of which blocks any attempt to shut down the window. Keyboard short cuts are paralysed.

It goes without saying that you should not engage in any way with these criminals. Do not contact them and do not under any circumstances transfer files or give money. There are other ways to deal with this attack.

.The more advanced versions of this attack actually do disable some functions of your machine, such as trackpad functionality.

This is one of the most malicious and annoying virus scams out there. Using the Task Manager to force your browser to quit won’t necessarily solve the problem. Even if you have removed all history and cookies, the pop-up returns as soon as you re-start the browser.

Some sites have advised a lengthy (and, for many users, a complex) process to remove the virus. This often involves running virus scans and entering code into numerous windows. The vast majority of people simply do not or cannot cope with this process. One friend completely reinstalled his system to get rid of the problem. That’s a real pain.

I found a much simpler way to sort out the problem. For Firefox on Windows, it works like this:

  1. Use Task Manager to force quit your browser.

  2. Uninstal your browser.

  3. Use the default Edge browser to download a new browser.

  4. When you start the browser, DO NOT instruct it to revert to the previous tabs. Just start from fresh. Don’t return to the most recent sites that you landed on before.

I’ve now been using the new browser for five days with no sign of the virus.

OK, this process doesn’t remove the virus itself from your system, but it buys you some time to figure out the complexities of full removal.