What is adware?

Updated at: Sep 10, 2020
By Gatefy

Different ads to illustrate an adware threat.

Adware is a type of malware (or malicious software) that is hidden on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, and works by opening unwanted pages and advertisements. Depending on the case, adware may change your security settings in order to monitor your steps and behavior, which is very dangerous.

By the way, adware is a combination of the words advertising and malware. In practice, at first glance, adware is a major hassle.

You have your browser open, seeing something interesting on the internet, when suddenly screens with ads and other random pages just start to appear. The worst: you click to close them, but they end up multiplying, which is very irritating and frustrating.

This is a real adware attack. But this type of malware isn't just an annoyance. Let's talk more about this and other topics involving adware. Check it out:

  • What adware does on your device.
  • How you may get infected with adware.
  • Differences between adware, virus, and malware.
  • Protection against adware.
  • How to remove adware.

What adware does on your computer, phone, or tablet

1. Open unsolicited screens and pages

Adware is a generator of unwanted advertisements. When surfing the internet, you’re surprised by pop-ups and endless pages on a wide range of topics, from travel package ads to miracle drugs. Actually, this is the main feature of an adware.

2. Slow down your device

One of the first signs of infection with adware is slowing down your device. Loading multiple ads requires that your device's processor always work at high performance, which usually affects its response speed.

3. Consume data from your internet plan

Yes, adware speeds up the use of your data plan, since loading and running ads also consume internet data. In the end, you may be spending more money when using the internet and you don't even know about it.

4. Monitor and track your behavior

Depending on the adware, it has the ability to bypass the security of your device to monitor and track your actions on the internet. The purpose is to display personalized ads that may be of most interest to you.

5. Install extensions and plugins in your browser

Adware may also have the ability to install extensions and plugins in your browser without your permission, which can open up other types of backdoors.

How you may get infected with adware

The most common form of adware infection involves downloading and running programs and software, mainly via suspicious websites and malicious emails. That is, when installing a program, you install adware without knowing it. We could say that it's a malicious gift included.

Another method of adware infection involves exploiting vulnerabilities in your browser. Imagine that you access a website that is infected with malware; and it can be a seemingly trustworthy site that you’ve visited before. This site, without your consent, downloads adware and infects your device.

What are the differences between adware, virus, and malware

It's common for people to think that adware, virus, and malware are all the same. But they aren't. In cybersecurity, the terms sometimes get mixed up. We'll detail the characteristics of each of these terms.

Malware

Malware is malicious software designed to harm companies and people. In fact, it's a broad and generic term that covers different types of threats, such as adware, virus, ransomware, trojan, and spyware.

Virus

Virus is a type of malware that is installed on your computer or device in order to steal data, delete documents, or even make configuration changes on your machine.

Adware

Adware is another type of malware, with a well-defined purpose: to exploit your device with advertisements that end up generating revenue for those behind the threat.

Protection against adware

The defense against any type of malware is almost the same. It involves the adoption of protection tools, such as an antimalware solution and, in the case of companies, also an email protection solution, and security practices, such as:

  • Keep your operating system, browsers, and software up to date.
  • Don’t download from unknown or suspicious sites.
  • Avoid torrent sites.
  • Watch out for suspicious emails.
  • Be cautious when choosing software and mobile applications.
  • Always have a backup.

How to remove adware

If you believe that you may be infected with adware, the best way out is to install an antimalware solution and scan your device, then delete the threat. For personal use, there are several free solutions on the market. If you are unable to remove the adware on your own, you can hire a specialist to help you.