Q: I have a problem with a pop-up that keeps appearing on the lower right-hand side of my Desktop screen. It appears every time I open my computer and is a real nuisance — plus embarrassing, given the content of the messages that appear in it (not to go into specifics). The header of the message reads “gpgcs.com” and the messages tell me that my computer has viruses as well as several other statements. When running an antivirus scan on my computer, it shows I have no infections though, and when I Google the URL in the notification headers the results show that it is SPAM. Any idea how to fix this?
— Millie H., Vero Beach
HAS: This sounds like another case of Windows Push Notification malware.
As described in recent columns on the topic, this adware uses a website’s permissions prompt command (when the site you are on asks if you want to “Block” or “Allow” notifications from it during your visit) as a trigger to push infection- causing messages into your Windows notifications panel (also called “push notifications”). Because these messages appear as notifications from Windows instead of website pop-ups, they feel more legitimate than typical adware teasers and thus more tempting to click on, but needless to say, the intentions are the same as those more traditional versions: To get you to click on them so they can launch a virus upon your system.
To fix, first stay away from these messages as you’ve been doing. While you can click on the “x” in the upper right corner of them to close the notifications themselves (this is a Windows command and is harmless) do not click on anything inside the notification as this could launch an infection onto your system.
Secondly, run a full antivirus scan as well as a full anti-malware scanner on your system. If you don’t have the latter, then please install the free version of MalwareBytes from the following URL and run that, deleting whatever turns up in its scan results: https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/thankyou
Because this type of adware uses Windows notifications to convey its messages, your scans may not turn up with anything in them, but that is fine. By running the two scans at this point you are merely ensuring no virus has been installed so far, so a negative result is actually good here.
After running the scans, open your web browser.
If using Chrome, then do the following: Open the “Settings” menu, which can be accessed by clicking on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the browser screen. When you click on that, a menu will appear and click on the word “Settings” found in it. When you do, a new browser tab will open, and in it click on “Privacy and Security” in the left-hand navigation menu. Then click on “Site Settings” in the main content well, and then in the next window scroll down and click on “Notifications.” In the next page that appears, scroll all the way down to a sub-section titled “Allowed to send notifications”. In that list, look for an item titled “gpgcs.com” — when you find it, click the three stacked dots to the right of it and select “Remove” from the menu that appears. Repeat for all other items possessing that entity name (if any) and then close the tab.
To do this in the Edge browser (only if you use Edge, that is), click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right corner of the browser window, then on “Cookies and site permissions” in the left-hand menu. In the right-content well, click on Notifications (about half-way down) and then in the next page that appears go to the “Allow” section found there and remove the items named “gpgsc.com” from that area by clicking on three horizontal dots beside the entity name and selecting “Remove” from the menus that appear beside those lines.
Performing these steps should stop the notifications from appearing in Windows as this takes away the permissions for that source site to push notifications from its server to you. If problems persist after this, however, it may be worth contacting a technician for additional help.
As a side note: The adware itself most likely came onto your computer via a request from a website you recently visited. While on that site, you were most likely asked if you wanted to receive notifications from that site in a pop-up. By clicking “Yes” or “Allow,” you gave that site permission to display its notifications to you in Windows, which in turn caused the problem.
In the future, instead of instantly agreeing to that request, please refuse it — that is, unless you absolutely want to receive notifications from that site. Doing this simple step should stop this nuisance from ever returning to your system in the future.
Untangling the web
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Contact Eyal Goldshmid at [email protected]