If you use the internet regularly you've most definitely had an encounter with adware. Some may find it a nuisance while others happily click on links for the latest sale on products they were just talking about the other day with their friends. This begs the question, what are the risks that come with exposing yourself to adware?
What is adware?
Adware is a form of software that operates in the background to serve users advertisements for products or services on the internet. These ads can show themselves in the form of pop-ups or images on the side of the screen that link to various other applications, websites, or in some cases cyber criminals. At its core adware is only supposed to advertise to you, however bad actors often find ways to exploit these ads and software to serve users malware instead.
Is the such thing as good adware?
Adware isn't inherently malicious. A majority of the time, adware is just an annoying pop-up you have to click off of to continue browsing the internet. In fact, many applications that are free require users to consent to ads in order to use their services. This allows their app or software to remain free to the user, but also allows the company to remain profitable. These types of ads are completely legal and are usually in the control of the user. Some people may actually find these types of marketing useful, others may just find it tiresome. At the end of the day, there are completely legal and valid forms of adware that won't harm your devices.
What about malicious adware?
On the other hand, there absolutely are malicious forms of adware circulating the internet. These forms of adware seek to infect and harm the users computer rather than simply just advertise to them. When you've been infected with malware from an ad you may begin to see an increased amount of pop-ups, browser extensions, or tabs open that you don't recognize. This could be a symptom of malware running in the background of your computer. The pop-ups and ads that show up via malware could link to false website or products meant to scam you, or they could simply just download viruses and spyware to extort you or sell your data to other bad actors. These malicious forms of adware don't care about asking permission to download software, these ads exist solely to make money off of you.
There are a few telltale signs you've been infect with malware via adware:
Your browser and computer begin to run slower over time
Links you click on redirect to unknown or unwanted sources
Browser extensions are downloaded without your permission.
What can you do?
There are a variety of ways to reduce and even get rid of adware on your devices. Some legitimate and benign forms of malware are fairly easy to cut out, while malicious forms burrow deep and may take longer to remove. If you want to reduce the amount of ads you see while browsing the internet, a simple ad blocker extension can do the trick. There are dozens of free ad blocks available to download that can remove pop-ups and trackers, some internet browsers even come with their own ad blocker that's as easy to use as flipping a switch. However, to remove malware you may need to consult other trusted cybersecurity tools to make sure every trace of malicious software is removed from your device.
At the end of the day, adware is unavoidable but how your respond and limit its effects can greatly impact your security posture and minimize the risk of data leaks. CorpInfoTech can aid you in rooting out any malware or advanced threat actors that may have gained access to your systems via adware or other applications.