Have you ever wondered why you see so many pop-up ads and banners while browsing online? Adware is likely to blame. This sneaky malware is downloaded in secret, monitoring your online behavior and bombarding you with adverts.
In this article, we’ll cover what adware is, how it works, the different types of adware, and what to do if you suspect your computer may have fallen prey to this advertising tool.
What Exactly Is Adware?
Adware is unwelcome software that displays ads on your screen, usually while you’re using a web browser. It typically employs a cunning technique to either pass as legitimate software or hitches a ride on one to deceive you into downloading it on your computer, iPad, or smartphone.
Pop-ups or banners that appear on screen are typically used to display the adverts. The software is generally developed for computers. However, it can also be used on mobile devices.
Once the adware has taken over your computer, it may start performing various undesirable actions. It can be designed to assess where you are and the websites you visit and provide advertisements relevant to the products or services offered there.
Although adware is more of an annoyance than a real threat, if the developers sell your browser history and personal information to third parties, they may use it to target you with more advertising that is more relevant to your browsing or viewing preferences.
Keep in mind that legitimate software programs occasionally employ online advertising. These advertisements are frequently integrated into the application and appear as the software creator intended.
Types of Adware
There are two main types of adware, namely malicious and legitimate adware.
Most adware can be categorized as browser hijackers. This type of intrusive adware alters your device’s web browser settings without your knowledge or permission. Hijackers usually change your default search engine and homepage.
Your happy browsing is abruptly interrupted by a flood of advertising. Naturally, you may believe these annoying advertisements come from the website you’re browsing, but they don’t. However, they provide the impression that they are integrated into the website itself because they show up as pop-ups or pop-unders.
Here are some of the different types of malicious adware:
- Spyware – software that is used to track your location, behavior, preferences, and more
- Man-in-the-middle attacks – this adware redirects your traffic to the adware creator’s system allowing him or her to “listen” in on your conversations
- Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) – downloads automatically with free software
This type of adware is installed with the user’s explicit approval. Users typically receive something in exchange for knowingly downloading this type of adware, such as discounts or access to free software.
Signs You May Have Adware on Your Device
Here are some of the signs that you may have malicious adware on your device:
- Your browser begins to crawl
- Adverts are being displayed in places they should not be
- You see pop-up or pop-under ads regularly
- Clicking on website links takes you to unrelated websites
- The browser crashes
- Your web browser homepage has changed suddenly
- New plugins, toolbars, and extensions populate your browser
- You notice that web pages you visited before aren’t loading properly
- Software is downloaded on its own
What To Do If Your Device Has Been Affected by Adware?
Adware can invade your device through one of two basic entry points. First, after downloading a program—typically shareware or freeware—adware is discreetly installed without your knowledge or consent; so, what can you do if your computer or mobile device is affected by adware?
Ensure that you are backing up your files regularly. You may try to uninstall the adware using the appropriate operating system tool. However, to achieve this, you must know the name of the adware application or ensure that it lacks a Resuscitator, which is intended to restart the adware after a user has uninstalled it.
Install a trustworthy cybersecurity app such as Malwarebytes if this is the case. You can find free trials of these apps. They are intended to find and remove PUPs, adware, and any other type of malware.
When you complete a scan, it will identify, tag, and dispose of any potentially harmful software that may be hiding in your computer. It would help if you also changed your passwords after the cybersecurity software has done its job.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent adware from infiltrating your device:
- Ensure that you have a reliable cybersecurity app to safeguard your system from malicious adware
- Run security scans regularly
- Read the terms and conditions before downloading free software
- Avoid sites that offer illegal downloads and free torrents
- Never click on a link from an unknown source
- Use a pop-up ad blocker
- Don’t click on ads if they aren’t from a trusted source
Adware can be more than just annoying ads that pop up on your screen. They can record, monitor, and even sell your information to third-party advertising companies and display targeted ads against your will.
However, getting rid of this software is pretty simple. Download a reliable cybersecurity application to protect yourself from this malicious form of advertising.