1. Introduction

In this tutorial, we’ll explore adware. We’ll talk about the potential threats it poses to our safety, how it works, how to prevent infections, and how to remove existing adware from our computers.

2. What Is Adware?

Adware is software that shows unwanted ads while running:

Adware Example

By monitoring the websites we visit, the adware may also determine our interests and then display pop-up ads related to our search history.

Some software packages include adware as part of the installation process. Although some adware only shows advertisements, it’s also common for adware to come packaged with spyware.

What’s more, some adware apps are malicious and don’t require users to install them but find their way in secretly. On the other hand, some companies include information about their installation in user agreements.

If only showing ads, adware isn’t harmful like dangerous malware such as keyloggers, ransomware, and various viruses. Constant ads can annoy us but aren’t a threat.

3. How Does Adware Work?

The following are typical ways of adware spread:

  1. Users visit websites infected with adware that exploits browser vulnerabilities to download adware in files.
  2. Users unknowingly download a free program (known as freeware or shareware) that contains adware.

Adware generates third-party revenue for its distributors and developers. They get paid by ad posters each time we see their ad, click on it, or install their app.

Additionally, the adware kits can track our location and cookies to help advertisers target ads more effectively. Further, adware owners can sell that information to other parties.

4. Adware Types

There are various types of adware.

4.1. Legitimate Adware

Adware of this type allows us to subscribe to ads and software promos that don’t contain malware. This enables the free distribution of programs.

Users willingly install this type of adware to obtain a product for free. Ads popping up might be annoying but everything is legal and legitimate since users knowingly install it and subscribe to ads.

4.2. Potentially Unwanted Applications

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are software bundles that contain undesirable programs in addition to reputable complementary apps. Open-source software commonly includes PUAs, and a legitimate free software bundle will set them up for the user.

Adware, browser toolbars, and browser hijackers are examples of potentially unwanted programs. Depending on how it functions and the intentions of its developers and distributors, PUA adware may be harmful or unlawful to varying degrees. We thus classify PUAs into three groups.

  • Legal abusive adware is a sort of adware designed by the creator to overwhelm users with adverts. It’s legal since it only shows non-fraudulent ads and doesn’t install any malware in secret. Adware like this frequently includes adverts for fitness supplements or pornography, for instance.
  • Legal deceptive adware is one that misleads users in some way. It’s legal as long as the developer doesn’t intentionally place malware-infected software or advertising there.
  • Illegal malicious adware comes with or shows ads for malicious software. It’s illegal to deploy or circulate under any circumstances.

4.3. Mobile Adware

Recent studies show that adware is already among the most prevalent malware attacks on mobile devices. Installing gaming apps is the most frequent way of infecting our phones.

Some mobile adware apps are inconvenient but benign; once installed, they bombard users with ads. Dealing with them can be difficult because the ads may show independently from the adware app, making it difficult to determine the source. Beyond this, they don’t pose a threat.

Other types of mobile adware are malicious and dangerous. For example, they can show us hoax ads to trick us or contain components that steal our data such as passwords for banking apps.

5. How Do We Detect and Remove Adware?

Typical signs of adware are:

  • Ads are overrunning the screen.
  • There are new toolbars in the browser.
  • We can’t surf the web without being redirected to shady websites.
  • Our device got slow.

In this case, we should use cybersecurity software.

The first step is installing a product with “anti-adware” capabilities. Most antivirus and antimalware tools can detect and get rid of adware and other threats.

The next step is to enable adware protection in our security software settings because it might not be turned on by default.

6. How Do We Prevent Adware?

When our device becomes infected with malicious software, it becomes slow and frustrating to browse. There are various methods to stay free of adware:

  • We should avoid downloading apps from random sources. Instead, we should download them only from their official website or from websites such as Google Play that do malware checking.
  • Before installing any apps, we can use an up-to-date antivirus application to check for malware.
  • We can also use ad-blocking software.
  • Further, we can refrain from blindly clicking on pop-up messages.
  • We need to regularly update the most recent security patches to the apps on our devices. A further suggestion is to turn on automatic updates so that we get security patches as soon as they are available.
  • We should check their authenticity before clicking any links in our emails and on web pages.

7. Conclusion

In this article, we talked about adware and its types. To be safe from it, we should use antivirus and antimalware tools capable to detect and remove adware. Additionally, we should be careful when installing new software and browsing the Internet.

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