We sincerely apologize for any inappropriate advertising you may have seen on AOL or our related properties. Rest assured, we’re always investigating any reports of inappropriate advertising. We’re confident that these offensive advertisements are being presented on AOL webpages in error and are most likely related to spyware or malware that resides on your computer.

Affected browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer

Affected operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP/2000

Before you start

You will need to know the version of the Microsoft Windows operating system installed on your computer. You can find this information by following the steps given in the online help article Determining your version of Microsoft Windows

Tips to avoid spyware and malware

  • Always keep your Microsoft Windows operating system up to date and ensure that the latest security updates are installed using the Windows Update utility.
  • Use antivirus software to protect your computer from viruses and other malware and always keep your antivirus definitions and databases up-to-date.
  • Run antivirus scanning or detection utilities on a regular basis to identify and remove malware that can infect your computer. After removing the malware, reboot your computer and scan it again to ensure that all harmful components have been deleted. Some malware programs are very persistent and can be difficult to completely remove.
  • Protect your computer with a firewall, especially when using a broadband connection.
  • Do not download an email attachment unless you trust who it’s from.
  • Do not open emails or respond to instant messages from someone you don’t recognize or trust.
  • Do not click on hyperlinks that you don’t recognize or trust.
  • Do not accept any downloads from websites that you don’t recognize or trust.
  • Be careful when downloading free programs, especially popular music and media sharing programs. Read all software licensing agreements carefully to understand what you’re agreeing to install on your computer. Many popular applications include spyware components, and some of these applications won't work when these components are removed.
  • Adjust your browser's security settings to provide at least “medium” levels of security. This is usually the default setting; if the level of security is lowered, your computer could be open to additional risk.
  • Do not permit the installation of ActiveX controls that you haven't requested.


Below you’ll find solutions to help resolve your issue. Please try these in order – the first two will resolve most issues. The third suggestion is optional, and is intended only to help supply meaningful malware-related information to AOL Information Security.

1. Scan your computer for viruses and malware
2. Run the Microsoft Update Utility
3. Perform an optional AOL Security Check

Scan your computer for viruses and malware

Note: Please check to see that your McAfee software is updated by following the instructions given in our help article Using McAfee: Features Follow the instructions in that help article on how to manually update your McAfee virus software.

Your computer can contract viruses or spyware if you download certain software, open attachments received through emails or visit certain websites. This usually happens without your knowledge. Virus or spyware may cause the problem that you are currently experiencing. Please read our help article Using McAfee: Scanning to find out how to scan your computer for virus and spyware.

If you use other brands of antivirus or anti-malware software programs, you will have to use the scan or detect functions within these programs. Follow the instructions given within these programs for the detection and removal of malware.

If you don't have security software installed on your computer, you can select and install one by going to safety.aol.com.

Run the Microsoft Update utility

Microsoft often releases patches that fix security holes and help protect your computer. By running the Microsoft Update utility and installing these security patches, you can help protect your computer. Refer to our help article Run the Windows Update utility for assistance with this process.

Perform an optional AOL Security Check

AOL actively gathers information about malicious software programs. This information, which is incorporated into antivirus and anti-malware definitions, assists AOL in the constantly evolving struggle against malware of all kinds.

As an optional step, you’re invited to take part in AOL's Security Check program. This will install the Security Check utility on your computer and explains any information about possible malicious software running on your computer.

AOL does not share this information with any outside agency or vendor. This information is only used to combat the spread of viruses and malware.

To perform the optional AOL Security Check

1. Go to seccheck.security.aol.com.

2. In the To Proceed section, enter your AOL Username and then click Proceed.

3. Click Run.

4. Click Run again.

Note: If you are using Windows 7/Vista, you may be prompted to click Yes on the User Account Control window. If no window appears, check the Windows taskbar for a flashing tab. If you see the flashing tab, click it. The User Account Control window will now appear. Click Yes.

5. Click OK.

Once the scan is complete, a report is generated and sent to AOL's Information Security team.