While browsing the internet, sometimes you might experience continuous irrelevant ad-bombardment even on legitimate web pages. Although advertisements are normal on websites, especially on blog sites, as most of them generate revenues through ads only, sometimes ads can be malicious and cause trouble to your device. Such malicious ads are generated by a type of browser malware known as Adware.
This post will guide you all about Adware, what it is, how it gets spread, what its symptoms are, how to remove them and stay protected.
What is Adware?
Adware are malicious programs that primarily infect web browsers to display unwanted, irrelevant ads to the users. The term is the combination of two words Advertising Software. Usually, such programs automatically get installed on victim’s devices without their permission, so they are categorized into Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). The function of Adware is not just limited to ad displaying. The advanced Adware program can perform many other illicit activities like browser hijacking for ad displaying, introducing other dangerous malware programs like Spyware, Ransomware, and others. Adware can also collect browsing data in the name of targeting users with the relevant ads. This way, even the privacy of the users is infringed.
Though a typical Adware might seem to be harmless, it is not the case. With continuous ad bombardment, even a non-malicious Adware can highly slow down your computer and restrict essential applications and services from running correctly. Another irritating thing about Adware is, it is pretty challenging to remove it entirely from the computer.
Signs of Adware Infection
If your computer or smartphone gets infected with Adware, it will show certain signs that would confirm the presence of the malicious PUP responsible for the ads.
Here are the signs that would indicate the Adware infection on your device:
- There will be a sudden surge of ads on your browser screen and possibly on the applications window too. You will notice ads on the legitimate platform, which generally does not show ads.
- You might notice some application icon on your desktop that you don’t remember installing. Similarly, there will be some unknown extensions on your web browser that automatically get installed.
- The Adware would alter the default browser settings for bombarding ads.
- The system becomes slow and sluggish because of continuous redirection and ad bombardment
- Since the Adware program is consuming so much system resources, you will experience other legitimate programs getting crash frequently.
- Adware can highly slow down your internet network as it is required to download a large number of ads for displaying on your browsers and other applications.
Why is Adware dangerous?
Adware itself is not a dangerous program. It is mainly irritating to the users as they get irrelevant ads because of it. However, malicious actors can use Adware in hazardous ways. Cyber attackers can display malicious ads and pop-ups through Adware and lure users into clicking on them. Clicking on such illicit ads can redirect you to infected sites or initiate the download of dangerous malware like Trojan, Ransomware, Spyware, and others. Adware can also collect browsing data like cookies, search history, IP address, and more.
Some advanced Adware applications are capable of conducting the man in the middle attack to hijack your online session and steal sensitive information.
How do I get Adware?
Adware programs might get into the system in many ways. Most of the time, it happens due to the user’s carelessness or lack of awareness. Here are the top ways through which Adware infiltrate your system:
When you install a new program on your system, many of them might come with an added program that you didn’t intend to install. Many users in the hurry of installing the software ignore the bundled program, and it also gets installed along with the primary program in the system. Such additional programs can be Adware. Bundled programs are the most common Adware carrier.
Clicking on Malicious Pop-ups
Pop-ups are a good feature for genuine websites to interact with their visitors. However, cybercriminals are exploiting this amazing tool to conduct malicious activities. Many online attackers are using pop-ups to introduce malware programs in the user’s device who clicks them. For this, they design pop-ups with fake offers and intriguing headlines to lure internet users into clicking. Clicking on such infected pop-ups might redirect users to illicit websites or trigger the installation of malware programs like Adware, hijackers, Trojans, and others.
Downloading from Third-Party Sources
In anticipation of getting paid software for free or at a lower price, many users take the route of third-party sources. Most of these third-party sources are pirated and filled with fake and infected programs that appear legitimate. In greed, many users ignore the dangers of such infected software and download & install them on their machines. After getting installed, the malicious software program can introduce Adware and other malware to the system.
How does Adware work?
After infiltrating your system, the Adware starts working by installing itself and being active in the background. The attacker then just hopes that you will accidentally click on the displayed ads. The main motive of the attacker is to earn money through the following ways:
- Pay Per View (PPV): get paid every time the user views an ad.
- Pay Per Click (PPC): get paid every time someone clicks an ad.
- Pay Per Install (PPI): get paid every time an adware program is being installed.
Other than that, as already mentioned, Adware can be a medium for other dangerous programs to enter your device. So, if you click any infected ad, a malicious program might silently get installed on your system without you even knowing about it.
How to remove Adware?
Removing adware from the device is necessary not only for getting rid of unnecessary ads but also to safeguard your system from infection of other dangerous malware. The procedure to remove Adware varies according to device type.
Let’s list them one by one
Remove Adware from Windows Computer
You will find malicious Adware mainly on the devices with Windows OS installed. Here are the ways to get rid of Adware from such devices.
Reboot your system in Safe Mode
Whenever you suspect a Browser Hijacker attack or any other malware attack on your PC, the first thing you should do is restart your computer in the Safe Mode. It is because, in normal mode, your device might not be functioning correctly due to the presence of the hijacker. The Safe Mode disables every application, excluding the essentials one. This way, you can easily track the culprit application and uninstall it while being on Safe Mode.
Uninstall Suspicious Applications
If you are not in Safe Mode, you can still catch the malicious programs and uninstall them. To do that, follow these steps:
Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select Task Manager.
On the Task Manager window, look for the applications or processes that you don’t remember installing.
Right-click on such programs and choose Open file location.
Delete all the files related to the applications from the root location.
Deleting the files is not enough. You have to uninstall the applications too. For that, navigate to the Control Panel.
Choose Uninstall a program.
Right-click on the suspicious applications and select Uninstall.
Remove Malicious Web Extensions from Browser
Web Extensions are pretty helpful in making browsing easier and make the most use of the browser’s capabilities. Google Chrome’s web extensions are pretty popular among users. Taking advantage of this, cyber attackers release malicious Browser Hijackers and other malware in the name of legitimate extensions or add-ons.
To check the list of installed web extensions and remove the suspicious ones on Google Chrome, follow these steps:
- Launch Google Chrome Browser and click on the three dots at the top right corner. Hover your mouse to More tools and select Extensions.
- You will see the list of all your installed web extensions.
- Look for the suspicious ones that you don’t remember installing and remove them. You can also disable them if you are unsure whether they are malicious.
Reset Browser Settings
After getting rid of the application or extension responsible for the hijacking, it is time to reset the browser’s settings to default.
Follow these steps to reset browser settings in Google Chrome:
- Launch Chrome, click the three-dots at the top-right corner, and select Settings.
- On the settings page, scroll down and click on Advanced to open advanced settings.
- Next, on the Advanced settings page, navigate to the Reset and cleanup section and click on Restore settings to their original default.
- On the following dialog box, click on the Reset settings button.
Scan your device with an Antimalware
Manually finding the malicious application and then removing it and its components from the system might be tedious for many users. If you are one of them then you can use robust security applications like antimalware programs that would detect malicious programs or files and remove them from the system.
Remove Adware from Android Devices
Android devices are another popular medium for cybercriminals to spread Adware applications. If your Android smartphone is infected with Adware, here are two ways through which you can remove it.
Remove Android Adware Manually
Android Adware can be easily removed from the device by uninstalling the malicious apps. Here is how to do that:
Note: Steps can be different for different phone manufacturers. Look for similar steps on your phone.
- Press and hold the power button then on your screen touch and hold the power icon. This process should reboot your Android smartphone in the Safe Mode.
- To confirm that phone is restarted in the safe mode, notice that Safe Mode icon is at the bottom and you have access only to system apps.
- Now start uninstalling the recently installed applications one by one.
- Remember to make a list of apps that you are removing, so that if they are safe, you can reinstall them later
- After each removal, restart your device in normal mode and see if the problem is fixed or not.
- Until the malicious apps are caught, repeat the above step.
- Once the Adware causing application is found, you can reinstall the other applications that you have removed.
Remove Android Adware using Antimalware
If you don’t want to take the trouble of manually getting rid of the Adware programs on your phone, you can use the robust antimalware application Malwarefox for Android. With a few simple steps, Malwarefox would remove every ad causing malicious applications and browser extensions from your Android Phone.
Here is how you can use Malwarefox to remove Android Adware.
- Install the Malwarefox Android application from the Google Play Store.
- Tap on its icon to launch it.
- From the main interface, select Full Scan to perform the thorough scan of your device.
- The antimalware would start scanning the apps, files and folders on your phone.
- If any malicious app is found Malwarefox would report it, and provide you with the option to delete it.
For the more advanced security, it is recommended to get the Malwarefox pro version.
Block/Remove Adware from iPhone
iPhone was considered to be safe from the malicious program because of advanced security measures than Android. However, intruders have found a way to infiltrate even an iPhone. If you found irrelevant ads on your iPhone, find the useless, suspicious applications and remove them.
If ads are appearing while browsing, here is how you can block them:
- On your iPhone or iPod, open Chrome browser
- Tap on the three dot icons and choose Settings.
- Push Content Settings and then tap Block pop-ups.
- Turn Block pop-ups off
How to prevent Adware infection?
Though they might seem harmless but annoying ad bombarding programs, Adware has proven to be pretty more dangerous than that. It is better to keep them at the bay, rather than dealing with them after the infiltration.
Here are some preventive measures to keep your Adware from your device:
Use robust Security Program
Getting a robust dedicated security program for your machine would ensure a tight security layer between malware programs and computers. Security applications like antimalware or antivirus are specifically designed to detect malicious codes or programs and prevent their infection. If you try to navigate to an infected link or download a suspicious file, the security program might prevent those from happening, thereby eliminating the chance of any malware attack.
If you are confused about which security program to go for, we have an excellent suggestion for you. MalwareFox is reliable security software that promises to protect your system and helps to handle malware and viruses. MalwareFox will scans, detect, and remove Malware and offers real-time protection It also protects your PC from the most dangerous malware such as Ransomware, Zero-Day Attack protection, Grayware, Keyloggers, etc.
Avoid Downloading Software from Unknown Sources
Malicious software programs are one of the most common malware carriers. Users must avoid getting any software programs from unknown third-party sources in greed of getting them for free or at a lower price. This should be avoided at any cost as software downloaded from third-party sources can be infected with malware.
Keep your OS and Apps Updated
Updating the operating system will not only introduce the new features but also update the system with the latest security patch. The computer with the updated security patch will be able to tackle the new Adware programs and other latest malware more conveniently. Similarly, it is also advised to keep all the installed applications updated with the newest version. An outdated application might open the door for malware entry because of its outdated security. Updating the applications will fix the security vulnerabilities and reduce the chances of malware attacks.
Use Secured Network
Many users like to connect to the unsecured public Wi-Fis as most of them are free to use. However, people are not aware that these public Wi-Fis are highly unsecured. Any intruder can easily hijack the user session on such networks and conduct illicit activities like introducing Adware and other malware. It is advised never to connect to public Wi-Fi networks. If you have any urgency, use a robust VPN service and don’t share any sensitive details while connected to unknown networks.
Practice Safe Browsing
The internet has revolutionized everyone’s life with its lots of advantages. However, people need to know that not everything on the internet is good. While browsing, you will find many illicit websites that might tempt you to visit them. Likewise, you will also find intriguing pop-up and banner ads that would offer you “too good to be true” offers. It would be best to always ignore such websites and ads as they are one of the primary sources of malware spread. Always practice safe browsing to eliminate any risk of Adware and other malware attacks.
Keep yourself Informed
Knowledge about Browser Hijackers, how they spread, and their attacking methods will always help you stay protected and even inform and save others from such devastating malware. It is advised to regularly read about the latest happenings in the cybersecurity world and what new hijackers are emerging.