These days, adware has virtually become synonymous with malware, implying that any legitimate software application should not engage in online advertising. This is not entirely true, as advertising is essential to the success of most businesses. The problem is rooted in how, when and where the developer chooses to display this content. Unfortunately, most people’s encounter with adware results in an array of unwanted processes running on their device.
Detecting Adware: Signs and Symptoms
The following are symptoms which may indicate that you have adware installed on your system.
Digital advertisements which appear in places they normally would not. This is true for any web browser and extends to icons which appear on your desktop, as well as pop up and pop under windows.
When visiting web pages you normally frequent, they may not display anything. Sometimes, they may even redirect you to other pages with content unrelated to what you were expecting or searching for.
A sudden or mysterious change to your web browser’s home or starting page that you did not change or initiate yourself.
Your web browser is suddenly populated with new toolbars and extensions. It may even crash from time to time.
How Adware Gets onto Your Computer
There are mainly two ways in which your system becomes infected with adware. The first is through the installation of freeware and shareware. This is proof that everything, including “free stuff,” comes with a price. While you are downloading that game or software package and thinking of the fun you will have with it, mechanisms for displaying digital advertisements are quietly introduced without your permission or knowledge.
The second most common cause of adware infection stems from normal browsing. This is true whether you are visiting a trusted or malicious website. These types of adware can be used to collect your information and even redirect you to other sites. The process is then repeated, with each site installing their own advertisements in your browser and sending you on to the next.
Make no mistake: Most websites are incapable of carrying out the mischievous activities of an adware program. Websites are usually comprised and used as conduits. Other times, they are used as ad farms, which are designed to earn revenue by driving up the number of views (or impressions) of a digital advertisement. Such abuse is known as ad fraud. The takeaway is that regardless of how adware gets onto your system, it is self-sufficient and capable of operating without outside help.
In many ways, advertising supported software is nothing more than a browser hack, propelled by a malicious or inconspicuous strategy to generate revenue for the masterminds behind it. Both types can modify the settings of your web browser without your knowledge or consent. They can also change its home page and default search bar. There are different types for different devices and operating systems, but each can be mitigated by using antivirus (AV) software regularly. Doing so will keep your online experiences happy and trouble-free.