Q. How do you get out of a fake tech-support scam page without having to reboot the whole computer?
A. Depending on the malware powering the fraudulent page and your browser settings, you have a few escape routes. Some malicious pages can be particularly persistent in trying to scam you, by repeating audio loops about “infections” and interfering with shortcuts for closing page tabs. If you have your browser set to automatically reopen page tabs, you may also be back where you started with the unwanted page even after you quit the program and open it again.
Should the common methods of evading aggressive web pages fail you — like quitting the program or closing the tab — move up to the system utilities for shutting down misbehaving apps. Press the Control, Alt and Delete keys (or the Control, Shift and Escape keys) to get to the Task Manager on a Windows PC or press the Command, Option and Escape keys on a Mac to open the Force Quit Applications box so you can exit the browser.
If you find the malware is interfering with your ability to use those system management tools, shut down the whole computer (holding down the power button often works), but disable your internet connection before you restart the computer. You can do this by temporarily turning off your wireless router or unplugging your Ethernet cable. When you start up your system again without an internet connection, the browser should not be able to reload the malicious page.
Now, close the offending tabs and adjust your browser’s settings so the program does not reopen the same pages when you start it again. When you have done that, restore your internet connection. As a general precaution after the encounter, scan your computer with your system’s antivirus program. Some poisoned sites can download malicious software before you realize it, so an up-to-date security solution is essential for modern web browsing.
Fraudulent technical-support pages have become increasingly sophisticated and assertive, and most use realistic graphics and social engineering to trap nontechnical users. To help educate the public, Microsoft has created a Tech Support Scams page with videos, examples and advice on how to recognize and report these types of sites.
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