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When researching a high school project on the guillotine, my daughter googled:

quillotine quotes

One of the top results was:

topfamousquotes.com/quotes-about-guillotine/

Apparently she clicked on that link from Google, and

  • that page was opened in the browser
  • another tab opened in the browser (Chrome on Windows) which looked sort of blue-screen-of-death-ish and opened a dialog saying that we had a virus and we should phone such-and-such a number (supposedly Microsoft support), while some audio played with a woman's voice telling us similar info.

I tried closing the browser tab, but was unable to do so. I was also unable to switch to the other tab.

I killed the Chrome task and shut down the computer.

Can anyone tell me what was going on, and if I should be scared about re-staring that computer?

  • Pretty old scam. Most-likely it's only attack vector is foolish viewers. Theoretically it's possible the page used a browser-exploit, but I don't think both attacks are usually seen in tandem. – Alexander O'Mara May 28 '16 at 1:17
  • As long as you don't pay attention to anything the web page says, you'll be fine. It sounds like the web page was either hacked or had some malvertising to scareware. Google will eventually figure it out and stop pointing to that site – Neil Smithline May 28 '16 at 1:38
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You should be okay. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The practice is refereed to as Malvertising. The idea is to make it appear the machine is compromised or having issues. They then usually direct you to a fix or a recommended program. However those are actually the real malware. And they may be ransomware, adware, bots, a remote admin tool, or some other malicious program.

Ignoring them and closing them is usually enough to neutralize the threat. However it is a red flag the site is suspicious as they partake in such ad campaigns. So I would avoid the site altogether instead of brushing it off. Especially if they let the advertisers use rich media for ads like Flash or allow them to inject scripts on the site you are visiting.

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