What is Adware?

Adware is a form of malicious software installed on your computer, laptop or cell phone that displays unwanted advertisements on your device. Adware commonly presents in the form of popups but it can also install unwanted toolbars on your computer’s internet browser or even change your browser settings and homepage. It can also place spyware on your computer and overrun your devices with unwanted and unnecessary ads. Adware can sometimes be difficult to to find and uninstall once on your computer or other devices.

Adware, also called advertising-supported software, is not always malicious in nature but it does often present security vulnerabilities. Adware generates income for the developer by creating online ads and popups targeted towards the user. Adware uses “cookies” to collect information about your browsing history and push targeted ads based on your browsing history and preferences. Adware popups can make your web browser run more slowly and reduce productivity.

Adware is dangerous because while the original software you downloaded may be safe, these ads can lead you to install malicious, sketchy software provided by third parties on to your computer. For example, you may download a free note taking app or software with adware on it. You see an add for another scheduling software in the platform and hit download. This third-party software could come with spyware, malware, ransomware or any number of other cyber threats. Adware is not always a virus but it does create security vulnerabilities on your computer and other devices. Adware is annoying but it is also dangerous and can cause long-term problems for your devices down the road. Malicious adware is a larger issue for android phones and Microsoft users which are more susceptible to malware through the Google Play App store, however Mac iOS and iPhone users are not immune to adware.

Mobile Adware

Mobile devices have become portable computing devices for today’s population. With that convenience and increased usage for internet browsing comes a greater chance for viruses, adware, malware and other cyber threats to infect them. Adware can find its way to your mobile device through many vectors.

The most common way mobile devices become infected with adware programs is through mobile internet browsing vulnerabilities. Insecure browsers that allow pop up ads to infiltrate your device can pass adware on to your mobile device. These ads and pop ups make using your device nearly impossible due to lag. The next most common way cellular devices become infected with adware is through malicious phone applications. After downloading, malicious apps can install malware on your device in the form of adware and push constant ads for unwanted programs or apps to your phone screen.

How do you get adware?

Adware often enters your device from malicious downloads, software and plugins. Usually found in freeware, shareware or software illegally downloaded from suspicious web pages, these programs can silently install adware without your knowledge or consent. The other common way that adware can infiltrate your device is from malicious websites. These websites are often infected with adware from cybercriminals and can infect your computer or other device with adware and other malware variants through cyber vulnerabilities.

This is why it is important to update your antivirus software regularly and be wary of downloading free software to your computer, especially your work computer. We recommend utilizing an antivirus software, ad blocker and an antimalware program on your computer.

Symptoms of Adware?

The following computer issues often present themselves when your device is infected with adware programs:

Your computer runs more slowly than usual.

Excessive pop-ups appear on your computer screen or other device.

Unstable computer & frequent errors.

The Internet homepage or main browser changed.

The Internet browser you use has multiple excessive new toolbars added.

Your device’s default internet browser has changed.

Mac / Windows updates & Firewall is disabled.

Fake anti-virus programs appear out of nowhere.

The computer stops responding or locks up often.

Search results hijacked to different websites.

Missing windows menus and options.

One or more computers experiencing a blue screen of death error.

Frequent program crashes and random restarts.

The antivirus software is disabled for no reason.

Unable to access “Task Manager.”

Types of Adware

While we have mainly focused on malicious software and adware so far in this article it is important to note that there are forms of adware that are not malicious. Many applications today are free but require additional support from ads to run their applications. By freely downloading the free app or software you are consenting to receive ads in exchange for the software. The application may ask you to acknowledge you have read and agreed to their terms and conditions and understand you will be served ads. Unfortunately some apps contain unwanted or malicious programs you did not consent to have on your device. These forms of adware can deliver unwanted popups and other ads to your device that cause lag, malicious software injects and more.

Adware infections can lead to malware attacks which paralyze thousands of businesses, nonprofits, and government entities every week. Without the proper expertise, recovering from a malware infection can be extremely difficult. It can take weeks to complete the virus removal if the malware is not caught in time. Touchstone Security is a New Jersey-based cybersecurity company that can help you recover from a malware infection and restore your operating systems to full capacity quickly. Malware can come in many forms, including ransomware, spyware, trojans, adware, and more. You need a malware removal New Jersey company that you can trust. Touchstone is here to help.