What is Adware and How to Defend Against It

Adware is a malicious program that generally has two goals: to spy on the victims' online behavior and to show advertisements

Adware is one of the most common and widely used computer infections. They are malicious programs that generally pursue two goals: to spy on victims' online behavior and to display advertisements. They are very insidious and difficult to detect.

They affect any device: from computers to smartphones. Once they are able to hack into the system, they shower the victims with continuous banner ads or redirect web traffic to websites that always contain commercial ads. As is the case with other types of malicious software, there are people behind adware who are interested in making quick and easy money. Viruses belonging to this family of malware often install extensions or change default browser settings, for example, changing the original search engine to a malicious one.

Why they are dangerous

Adware is very dangerous for users' privacy. Like spyware, they are capable of collecting a lot of personal and confidential information of victims, which hackers use to set up their deceptive advertising campaigns. Data accumulated by adware, which may include location, IP address (as well as websites visited), is usually sent to a server managed by malware authors.

Some of the most invasive forms of adware are capable of displaying illegal banner or pop-up ads or diverting victims' Internet traffic to illicit commercial platforms.

How adware strikes

The ultimate goal of adware, as seen, is to generate as many clicks as possible to the sponsored content displayed on infected machines. How do they attack? There are several strategies. Unfortunately, even in this case the main "ally" of adware are the users themselves. In fact, malicious code can be contained within some free programs.

Sometimes adware is software itself: victims think they are downloading a utility for their pc and instead they get a useless and dangerous tool. And not only that. It also happens that adware hides in bogus banners that urgently urge victims to update a program or PC component.

How to defend yourself against adware

The best weapon to ward off the danger of being hit by adware is to go on the counter-attack, which mainly involves being able to prevent the threat. This means avoiding downloading programs, even if they are free, from unofficial and potentially risky websites. Do not click on pop-ups asking you to update programs and operating system (if in doubt, contact the manufacturer). Also, beware of extensions installed in your browsers. Also, do not open suspicious links and email attachments. Above all, remember to keep your computer and antivirus software updated.