What is adware?

February 3, 2021 in Malware

Adware, short for advertising supported software, is a type of unwanted software designed to put advertisements on your screen. It can occur on a computer, mobile phone, or another electronic device. While there are presentations of Adware that can pose potential security risks, the main problem with Adware is that it’s a nuisance: inhibiting your ability to use your browser, follow links, and visit web pages with ease. Incessant pop-up ads, website redirects, and slowed processing speeds are just a handful of the effects Adware can have on your day-to-day device use. Even worse, it’s notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Though we may not realize it, most of us encounter adware every day. In fact, it’s become so pervasive that we may consider it an inevitable side effect of device usage. But it doesn’t have to be—and things weren’t always this way.

Adware has been on a steady and rapid rise since at least 2018. According to the Malwarebytes 2020 State of Malware Report, Adware was the dominant malware threat category for consumers in 2018 and 2019, and the same was predicted for 2020. This statistic held true for consumers and businesses across Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

The takeaway? Adware is becoming more aggressive. The same report accounted for an approximate total of 24 million adware detections on Windows devices, and 30 million on Macs—both significant sums.

Whether Adware is pre-installed on your device or later creeps in through downloads or installs, it can have a host of harmful consequences. But precisely what is Adware, what can Adware

look like, and what does Adware do?

What Does Adware Do—and What Are The Signs?

Once it’s on your device, what does Adware do?

Beyond the obvious impacts of adware—like your browser being bombarded with pop-up ads—you may be wondering, “what does Adware do for the developer who put it on your device?” The answer is simple: It generates revenue. By displaying ads without your permission, Adware can draw attention and clicks, opening up vulnerabilities that lead to more Adware for you—and more revenue for the developer.

As the Adware continues to inhabit your browser and learn more about your location, site visits, and purchasing preferences, it can target you with increasingly customized ads, increasing your likelihood of engagement. It’s a vicious cycle—and putting an end to it requires your ability to recognize adware when you see it.

What are the signs of Adware?

If you find yourself repeatedly asking “what is Adware?” and “what does Adware do?” you may benefit from concrete examples of how it can appear on and affect your devices.

Adware most commonly occurs within a web browser, which can include anything from Google Chrome to Safari, Firefox, and more. Some of the most common signs and presentations of Adware include:

  • Pop-up ads. Ads appear in places they shouldn’t, often hindering your ability to navigate a page.
  • Browser hijacking. The home page of your web browser appears different, and new toolbars, extensions, or plugins may be visible.
  • Web page hijacking. Pages you normally visit suddenly appear changed or do not display properly.
  • Web traffic redirects. Links don’t bring you to their designated websites, redirecting to other locations instead.
  • Slowed browser speed. Your website browser speed slows dramatically or stops altogether.
  • Automatic installations. Your device automatically installs unwanted software applications.
  • Browser crashing. Your browser unexpectedly or repeatedly crashes.

Ultimately, the questions “what is Adware?” and “what does Adware do?” can yield a range of answers, but the first step to understanding them is getting a grip on the basics. For more information about Adware, contact the SiteLock team.

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