Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Pages obscured by a survey might be legitimate ads... or it may be a virus. Time for a thorough scan.

I'm running three different computers: one using Windows Vista and Chrome; two using Windows XP and Chrome and three using Windows XP Pro and Firefox. I'm having the same problem with all three. It began on a particular site. When I opened the site, it would look like a legitimate page, but the actual news page was behind it. It now happens on many different sites. Sometimes, a questionnaire for insurance coverage; sometimes, it's so subtle that I begin to fill in the information but usually, I catch it before participating. Is it a virus? What the heck is it and how can I get rid of it?

In this excerpt from Answercast #78, I look at an odd case where surveys are popping up on websites for multiple computers.

Pages obscured by a survey

If you're seeing it across multiple sites, it very likely is malware of some sort on your machine.

I would recommend that you make sure your anti-malware software is current, up to date and that its databases are up to date and you run a full and complete scan on your machine.

Extra virus scan

The other tool that I would recommend you grab and run a scan with is Malwarebytes. There's a free version from

That tool tends to catch a few things that many of the other anti-malware tools sometimes miss. This kind of thing being one of them.

Common advertisements

Now, it is possible, there is a remote chance, that the sites that you're visiting are all using a common ad provider - and that ad provider happens to be throwing in front of your face a fairly obscuring ad, or survey participation thing, or whatever.

It's possible. Keep an eye out for that.

But from the description that you've given me, it certainly sounds like you've got malware of some sort and the right thing to do is a malware scan.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6132 - December 13, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

December 13, 2012 10:36 AM

As an aside, if it fits with your daily usage, you might consider turning off 'sharing'. My housemate is a novice user. Occasionally, I fix something for her on her machine. We are on the same wireless network, so, not wanting to receive any malware from her machine, I turn off 'sharing' and use a firewall on my machine.

December 15, 2012 10:33 PM

Also try Superantispyware free

December 16, 2012 4:59 PM

Since it happens with all three, there's the possibility it could be sometime (probably a virus) changed your router's DNS settings, as there's some types of malware that can attempt to change settings on well known routers. This could explain how it recently happened with all your machines on all the websites you visit.

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