Adware: What It Is and How to Avoid It - SentinelOne

Adware: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Introduction

Adware is a type of malware that displays unwanted advertising on your computer. It can be installed without your knowledge and is often bundled with free software or downloads from untrustworthy websites. Adware is annoying and difficult to remove, but it is not generally considered harmful. However, some adware strains can collect personal information like your browsing history and sell it to third-party companies, which is why it’s important to be aware of how to avoid adware infections and how to remove it from your computer if you get infected. Adware can also compromise users’ privacy and security by tracking their online activities and collecting personal information without their consent. This can pose a risk to sensitive data and information and potentially expose an organization to legal and regulatory liabilities. In addition, adware can be a vector for other types of malware, such as viruses, spyware, and ransomware, which can cause further harm to a computer system.

In this post, we will explain what adware is, how it spreads and how you can avoid being infected with this type of malware.

What Is Adware?

Adware is short for “advertisements software.” It’s a type of malware injected into your web browser in pop-ups, banner ads, or other forms of intrusive advertising. Adware gets installed without your knowledge and consent, and once it’s on your computer, it can be difficult to remove. While adware isn’t generally considered harmful, some strains can collect personal information like browsing history and sell it to third-party companies. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how to avoid adware infections in the first place and how to remove it from your computer if you do get infected.

What Are the Symptoms of Adware Infection?

The symptoms of adware infections can be disruptive and harmful to a computer system and its users. Users and system administrators need to be aware of these symptoms and take steps to detect and remove adware infections to protect their computer systems and networks. Some common symptoms of adware infections include:

  1. Unwanted ads and pop-ups: One of the most common symptoms of adware infections is the display of unwanted ads and pop-ups on a computer or mobile device. Adware can track a user’s online activities, and preferences and display targeted ads based on this information. These ads can be disruptive and annoying, interfering with users’ ability to use their computer or mobile device.
  2. Redirects to specific websites: Another common symptom of adware infections is the redirection of a user’s web browser to specific websites without the user’s consent or knowledge. Adware can manipulate a user’s web browser settings and redirect the user to websites that display ads or collect user data. This can be frustrating and confusing for users and expose them to potential security risks.
  3. Sluggish performance: Adware can also cause a computer or mobile device to become slow and sluggish due to the consumption of system resources and bandwidth to display ads. This can impact the overall performance and reliability of a computer or mobile device and reduce user productivity.

Is Adware a Type of Malware?

Yes, adware is considered a type of malware. Malware is a catch-all term for any type of software that is designed to cause harm to a computer or its user. Adware is a specific type of malware that displays unwanted advertisements on a computer. It can be intrusive and annoying, and it can potentially compromise the security of a computer by redirecting the user to malicious websites or downloading other forms of malware onto the computer. For these reasons, adware is considered a form of malware.

How does adware get installed on computers?

Adware can be installed on a computer in several ways. It is often bundled with other software that users download from the internet, and it can also be delivered through malicious websites or email attachments. Sometimes, the adware can be installed without the user’s knowledge or consent, so it’s important to be careful when downloading and installing software from the internet. It’s also a good idea to use a reputable antivirus program to help protect your computer from adware and other forms of malware.

How Can I Prevent Adware Infections?

The best way to prevent adware infections is to be careful about the programs you install on your computer and the websites you visit. Adware is often bundled with free software or downloads from untrustworthy websites, so it’s important to read the fine print before installing anything on your computer. If an installation program offers you the option to “decline” or “opt-out” of installing adware, make sure you do so. And if you’re ever unsure about a website, don’t hesitate to do a quick Google search to see if others have reported it as untrustworthy.

How Can I Remove Adware From My Computer?

If you have adware on your computer, there are a few things you can do to try and remove it. First, try running a virus scan with your antivirus software. If that doesn’t work, several adware removal programs are also available for download online. Once you’ve downloaded an adware removal program, run a scan of your computer to see if it finds anything. If the program does find adware on your computer, follow the instructions for removing it. Finally, even after you think you’ve removed all the adware from your computer, keep an eye out for any unusual behavior like new pop-ups or banner ads appearing in your web browser. If you see anything suspicious, run another scan just to be safe.

Examples of Adware Types and Strains

Some common examples of adware types include:

  1. Pop-up ads: These advertisements appear as windows on the website you are currently viewing. They can be difficult to close and can interfere with your ability to use your computer or mobile device.
  1. Redirects: This is when you click on a link or type in a website address, but instead of going to the intended site, you are taken to a different website filled with ads.
  1. Browser hijacking: Adware takes control of your web browser and changes your default homepage and search engine to one that displays ads. This can make it difficult for you to navigate the web and find the necessary information.
  2. Malicious ads: These are ads that contain malware, which is a type of software that is designed to damage or disable your computer or mobile device. When you click on a malicious ad, the malware is installed on your device without your knowledge or consent.

To protect yourself from adware attacks, it is important to be cautious when downloading and installing software and to use a reputable antivirus program to scan your computer or mobile device for adware and other types of malware.

As for adware strains, It is difficult to say which adware families are the most prolific, as the threat landscape is constantly changing and new adware families are constantly being developed. However, some of the most widespread adware families include:

CouponDropDown

CouponDropDown is a type of adware that displays coupons and other offers on a computer or mobile device. It is typically installed along with other software and can be difficult to detect and remove. CouponDropDown can interfere with your ability to use your computer or mobile device by displaying pop-up ads and redirecting you to websites filled with ads. To protect yourself from CouponDropDown and other types of adware, it is important to be cautious when downloading and installing software and to use a reputable antivirus program to scan your device for adware and other types of malware.

Zango

Zango (also known as 180 Solutions) was a company that produced adware and other types of software. Their most well-known product was Zango Search Assistant, a browser extension displaying targeted ads to users based on their online behavior. Zango was known for using aggressive marketing tactics, including bundling their software with other popular software and using pop-up ads to promote their products. In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Zango for its deceptive and misleading practices, and the company was eventually shut down.

WebCake

WebCake adware is typically installed without the user’s knowledge and can be difficult to remove. WebCake adware is often bundled with other free software and can cause various problems, such as slowdowns and crashes. It can also track a user’s online activities and gather personal information, which can be used for various nefarious purposes. If you think your computer may have WebCake adware, it is important to run a malware scan to remove it and protect your personal information.

DealPly

DealPly is typically installed without the user’s knowledge and can be difficult to remove. DealPly adware is often bundled with other free software and can cause various problems, such as slowdowns and crashes. It can also track a user’s online activities and gather personal information, which can be used for various nefarious purposes. If you think your computer may have DealPly adware, it is important to run a malware scan to remove it and protect your personal information.

Superfish

These adware families are known for displaying unwanted ads and pop-ups on the infected computer and can also be used to collect personal information from the user. Adware families can be difficult to remove, so it’s important to use a reputable antivirus program to help protect your computer from these threats.

Tips for Avoiding Adware Infections

Here are some tips for avoiding adware infections as an end user:

  1. Be cautious when downloading and installing software: Only download software from reputable sources, and read the fine print before agreeing to the terms and conditions. Some adware is bundled with other software, so it is important to carefully review the software you install to ensure you do not agree to install adware.
  2. Use a reputable antimalware program: Antimalware programs can scan your computer or mobile device for adware and other types of malware and help you remove it if it is found. Be sure to keep your antivirus program up to date to ensure that it can protect you from the latest threats.
  3. Be cautious when clicking on links and opening email attachments: Adware is often spread through malicious links and email attachments, so it is important to be cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources. If you receive an unexpected email or link from someone you know, verifying that they sent it before clicking on it is best.
  4. Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks: Adware can be spread through unsecured Wi-Fi networks, so it is best to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks unless you use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your connection.
  5. Keep your operating system and other software up to date: Keeping your operating system and other software up to date can help protect you from adware and other types of malware, as the latest updates often include security fixes for known vulnerabilities.

What Does Adware Do To your Computer System

Adware is software that displays advertising on a computer or mobile device without the user’s consent or knowledge. Adware can be bundled with other software applications or installed as a web browser extension or plugin. Once installed, the adware can track a user’s online activities and display targeted ads based on the user’s interests and preferences. Adware can also redirect a user’s web browser to specific websites or collect user data and personal information for advertising purposes.

Adware can be harmful to a computer system in several ways. It can slow down a computer’s or mobile device’s performance by consuming system resources and bandwidth to display ads. Adware can also compromise users’ privacy and security by tracking their online activities and collecting personal information without their consent. In addition, adware can be a vector for other types of malware, such as viruses, spyware, and ransomware, which can cause further harm to a computer system.

How Can I Keep my Organisation Safe From Adware?

The best way to avoid adware in an enterprise is to be proactive and take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. This includes educating your employees and implementing strong security measures. Here are a few steps you can take.

  1. Educate your employees about the risks of adware and teach them how to avoid it. This includes not clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from unknown sources.
  2. Use a reputable antimalware of adware protection program on all of your company’s computers. This will help to detect and remove any adware that may be present.
  3. Regularly update your operating system and other software to the latest versions. This will help patch any security vulnerabilities that adware could exploit.
  4. Implement strict security policies, such as requiring employees to use strong passwords and regularly changing them.
  5. Use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your network. This will help to prevent adware from being installed on your computers.

Is adware just for Windows? Is there adware for mac? and Linux?

Adware can affect computers running any operating system, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. While the types of adware and the methods used to deliver it may vary depending on the operating system, adware can potentially infect any computer.

To learn more:

What preventive measures can you take to protect your computer from being infected with adware in the future?

By following these simple steps, you can help protect your computer from being infected with adware in the future.

  1. Install and maintain reputable antimalware software on your computer. This can help to detect and remove adware before it can infect your system.
  2. Be careful when downloading and installing software from the internet. Only download software from reputable sources, and read the user reviews and ratings before installing anything.
  3. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or advertisements, especially in emails or websites you don’t trust.
  4. Keep your operating system and other software up to date. Software vendors often release updates to fix security vulnerabilities, so it’s important to install these updates as soon as they become available.
  5. Be cautious when using free or public Wi-Fi networks. These networks are often unsecured, making it easier for adware and other malware to infect your computer.

Conclusion

Adware can be annoying and difficult to remove, but it’s generally not considered harmful. However, some strains of adware can collect personal information like your browsing history and sell it to third-party companies. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how to avoid adware infections in the first place and how to remove it from your computer if you do get infected.

SentinelOne’s Singularity XDR uses advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and prevent adware infections in real-time. This helps protect businesses from the disruption and damage caused by adware, such as lost productivity and financial losses. SentinelOne’s solutions can be easily integrated into existing security infrastructure, making it an effective and efficient solution for enterprise customers looking to protect against adware.

With SentinelOne, administrators can access a single product that provides deep expertise in multiple areas. SentinelOne protects Windows, macOS, and Linux systems alike, and, as protection can be carried out by an autonomous agent independent of internet connectivity, it can even protect air-gapped systems. Administrators who choose SentinelOne will have access to a versatile multi-platform product that encompasses multiple layers of defense.

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