Norton UK Blog
5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Adware
There’s an old saying that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. Most internet users have encountered Adware at some stage but few people actually know much about it. Like the devil in question, Adware doesn’t seem to exist either.
Except Adware is a very real threat.
Ever clicked on a link and been subjected to endless pop-up windows or accidently downloaded an extra program while you were installing something? One minute, Google is your go-to homepage. The next minute some browser with a weird name has taken over. What’s that about?
You’ve just been hit with a form of Adware. So what exactly is it and should you be worried?
1. Adware comes in all shapes and sizes
Adware is a way for software developers to cover the cost of making software without charging the user. Everyone loves free stuff, right? Sometimes, these free apps or software are bundled with Adware. Which sounds pretty harmless but Adware hijacks your computer and bombards you with ads, which is about as much fun as it sounds.
The dark side of Adware is spyware, which lets third parties access your browsing history and target you with specific ads.
More malicious types of spyware can also steal your internet history, contacts, passwords or even credit card information. Yikes.
2. You can download Adware without even realising it
We all know that the biggest lie on the internet is “I have read the terms and conditions”. For all you know, at some point you agreed to sell your soul to an app developer because you clicked the box without reading the T&Cs. Yes, it’s a pain trawling through pages of legalese but it’s still better than installing unwanted Adware.
Always check the small print when installing software and look out for ticked boxes that will unleash all manners of annoying search engines or other sneaky surprises.
Of course, the people who make the worst kind of Adware will rarely give you any warnings. To avoid this, try to get programs or software from reputable sites, avoid clicking links or pop-ups advertising free stuff, and steer clear of downloads that look too good to be true. Like your mum said, if it’s too good to be true it’s probably because it is!
3. Adware isn’t nearly as harmless as it sounds
Adware can slow down your computer, hijack your homepage, interfere with basic functions or use up your data or bandwidth.
Adware can do some pretty nasty stuff to your system. It can quietly operate in the background without your knowledge, trawling through private information like your usernames, passwords, contacts or other details.
A number of new Android malware infections were recently found to be using Adware hidden in mobile game apps to hijack people’s phones.
It gets worse: tech company Lenovo recently caused a bit of a scandal when they pre-installed Adware on some of their computers. Security experts claimed that this Adware left these computers exposed to hackers.
4. Macs can get Adware too
We all know a Mac owner who thinks their Mac is impenetrable, but the first Mac Adware appeared in 2012 and there has been an increase in reported cases since.
The problem for Mac owners is that Adware is not a virus (though it is a type of malware) and it can be accidentally installed by the user themselves. We’ve all downloaded software from places where we probably shouldn’t, and that’s often where Adware comes from. Moral of the story: be careful with your devices.
5. Adware is pretty easy to get rid of
You wouldn’t give a complete stranger access to your computer or phone but that’s exactly what the worst Adware can do. Thankfully, however, Adware is one of the easier problems to get rid of.
One approach is to check their installed software for something that looks suspicious. Often, this can nip many problems in the bud as the Adware was a bundled software. Anti-spyware or antimalware will also scan your system and delete existing Adware.