Adware is probably the one kind of malware that everyone knows when they see it. Hard not to when it’s usually all in your face. Adware stands for advertising malware and it does just that: present unwanted advertisement using intrusive and at times dangerous methods.
Not all adware is outright horrible. At its best, it’s merely irritating. But at its worst, it can undermine your security settings to track your activities and display ads where it normally wouldn’t have access. These security breaches can then be exploited by more dangerous players. When this happens, the software is sometimes referred to as malvertising.
What does Adware do?
As advertisements become more complex, so does adware. Some of the more common ways adware acts on computers:
- Infinite Pop-ups: this is classic adware. Sometimes an endless stream will pop at once, while other times closing one only opens the next like bad game of whack-a-mole.
- Spying: With one foot in the spyware family, this kind of adware tracks your activities online and off to figure out what kind of advertisement it should show you.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks: Adware like Superfish operate by redirecting all of your traffic through their system so they can display advertisements, but they do this even over what should be protected connections — like when you connect to your online bank accounts.
- Slowing down your device: Loading and running advertisements draws processing power away from what you want to do, slowing down your device’s performance.
- Eating up your data: Just like there’s a data cost when you download a picture or video, downloading advertisements also eats at your monthly mobile data allowance.
How to remove Adware?
While blocking certain kinds of scripts from running in your browser may help, adware is usually written with the same programming language used by legitimate websites and services. Disabling those scripts also means disabling the web as you know it.
Other adware is written in ways common to viruses, Trojans and spyware. To remove this kind of adware, you’ll need a dedicated adware removal tool. Luckily, the advanced security suites you would normally use to protect yourself from viruses, Trojans and spyware also include those adware removal tools.
And if your mobile phone is what's being harassed by popups, you can always take a look at our guide on how to remove malware from an Android phone or iPhone.