What is an Adware?
An Adware is a malware that displays advertisement banners while a program is running, with intent to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements are displayed via pop-up windows or bars at the user interface of the program. This malware displays unwanted ads and pop-up windows that can be potentially harmful for your device. Adware may contain spyware that can redirect your search results to advertisement websites that collect information regarding your browsing habits so as to display customized ads. Most of the adware are just annoying and at the worst they can undermine your security and might display ads where they have got no access or authorization. Such breaches in security and vulnerabilities can be exploited by the attackers. This type of advertising is known as malvertising.
How can you recognize an adware?
There are symptoms which can help you identify whether your computer has adware. If your system has been infected by an adware, you will notice numerous ads and pop-ups in the applications you use that never displayed them earlier. You can also notice pop-up ads on your desktop even when you are not browsing the web. If you notice unfamiliar toolbars or search bar on your browser or unwanted changes being made to your browser’s home page, then probably you have been infected by an advertising software commonly known as an adware.
How adware affects a user’s system?
If you also suspect the presence of an adware on your system, it is important that you remove it as soon as possible. But before that you should know as to how an adware can affect your system and threaten your privacy, which is given below.
An adware can do any of the following things on your computer system:
- Collects personal information of the user– Adware are largely critized as they contain a code that tracks and records user’s sensitive personal data and browsing activities.
- Changes the browser or desktop icon settings without the consent of the user– Adware generally do unwanted or unintended modifications to the browser or desktop settings of the users that can undermine their security and privacy.
- Push notification advertisements without user’s consent– Adware are known to display constant pop-ups and push notification ads that can be very irritating at times for the user. The browsing experience diminishes significantly as this is done without obtaining user’s consent.
- Launches man-in-the-middle attacks– Adware can redirect all the traffic of the user via their system for the purpose of displaying ads.
- Slows down the user’s system and its performance– Adware consume the user’s internet bandwidth in order to display advertisements. The constant ads, banners and pop-ups slow down the system and the system crashes more often.
- Consumes user’s data– Constant advertisements that are displayed by Adware, consumes the internet data of the user.
How adware gets into a user’s system?
An Adware can get into a user’s system majorly by the following ways:
- Through shareware or freeware – Adware can get into a system via free software or freeware like widgets, toolbars, wallpapers or even mobile application at times, which a user downloads off the internet. This legitimately funds for the development and distribution cost of the said shareware or freeware. When the users install the software, Adware that are bundled along are also installed on the system.
At times, when the user wishes to download any free software off the internet, the browser hijacker tags along and gets installed secretly during the installation. The process is known as bundling and through it , such browser hijackers get successful in injecting adware to your system. In this way, the browser hijackers not just hijack your browser but also earn revenue for the makers through the online advertisements that are being constantly displayed to you. This primarily happens as you often fail to review the installation process and act in haste while giving permissions that the software seeks during installation.
- Through the infected websites-A visit to an infected website may often lead to the unauthorized installation of an adware or a browser hijacker through a vulnerability that might be present in the browser. Once your system gets infected, the adware is able to collect your private information and redirect your searches to malicious websites. Visiting these websites can increase your chances to encounter malware that can cause severe infection on your system.
- Through Spam Emails- Spam emails are one of the major methods used to distribute adware and other malware. Users generally act in haste and open the attachments/links that often come along with such emails.
- Through External Drives- Users often use the external drives on their system without scanning, thereby making way for the malware or an adware to infect their system. Infected removable devices are one of the ways that can infect your system with an adware.
Modus Operandi of an adware
Adware generate revenue for their makers through Pay per Click (PPC). They often enter through freeware that you download off the internet. Hence, it is always advisable that you should read the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) of the software carefully as it may contain information regarding the software that is being installed on your system. Every click on the ad, fetches revenue for the producers of the software.
An adware can be simply annoying or can be a serious threat as it may collect your personal information and pass it on to the third parties. An adware can put your security at stake as it may have the ability to track every moment of yours on the web. It follows every moment of the users on the internet and displays ads based on certain information like their browsing habits, search queries and how long they stay on a particular page etc. This information is quite valuable to display customized advertisements to the users that suit their tastes and preferences. It is sold so as to earn revenue and threatens the privacy of the user.
An adware always notifies the user regarding the fact that it is will gather user information and if it does not, then the same will be classified as a Malware (Malware that utilizes Trojan-Spy behaviour)
How to remove adware?
If you see new toolbars on your web browser, if there is a bombardment of unwanted ads and pop-ups, If your search is being redirected to advertisements/advertisement websites or if your system has become quite slow, there might be an adware present on your system. In such a case, you might need to use malware cleaner software and its adware removal tool or a dedicated adware removal tool to detect and remove such adware from your system. Use of malware protection, can help to prevent your confidential information from leaking into the hands of any cybercriminals or attackers. One can also use free anti malware removal software with adware remover available on the internet for overall threat detection and security.
How you can stay protected?
Properly reviewing the installation of the software and reading the EULA before downloading any free software on your system can save you from any further adware infections in future.
It is also important that you remain cautious to open any attachments while checking your emails. Spam emails contain malicious attachments and links which on being clicked can infect and damage your system. So, it is always a nice idea to use the best & reliable internet security on your system and hold yourself from clicking anything in haste until you are sure of what you are clicking or downloading.
Malicious websites are also one of the ways through which your system can get infected with an adware as explained above. So, as a user you should always take care of what you click while browsing the web.
People generally use external hard drives on their system without scanning them by an anti-virus security which in turn may infect their system with Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) or malware. So, if you wish to keep your system protected from any such malware attack, it is always advisable to scan the external hard drives or removable media with an anti-virus.
Last but not the least, it is important that you switch on the firewall while using the internet and keep your browser along with the antivirus always updated.
By following the said suggestions, you can stay protected and can save your personal data from falling into wrong hands.