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What is adware and how can it affect you?

Adware is a type of software which, when installed on your device, displays unwanted advertising. Adware is frequently annoying, but it can also be manipulative and illegal. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how adware ends upon your devices and what can be done to stop or remove it.

Distribution and installation

There are two main methods for distributing adware to users. Adware is normally included in any free software that’s available for download via the internet. This enables the developers who are providing the software to make money from the advertising generated by the adware. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so downloading anything that’s ‘free’ probably means you’re also downloading adware. While this can be annoying, it’s not necessarily illegal. It is a legitimate business model for developers to pursue, providing they are transparent with users.

The major problems with adware start, of course, when providers of free software are not transparent with their users. This results in adware being downloaded on to devices without consent. Worse still, adware can also be used as a means of installing malicious software. This type of software can also end up on your device even if you have not downloaded a free programme. In fact, the second most common way for adware to end up on a device is through the exploitation of a vulnerability in your operating system. Hackers use these vulnerabilities to insert malware, including adware, into your system to generate income by bombarding you with unwanted advertising.

The impact of adware

Adware can affect your desktop and mobile devises in many ways. Firstly, you are likely to be overwhelmed by pop up ads even when you’re not browsing the internet. This is, of course, extremely frustrating but even more concerning is the fact that it can slow down device performance and result in repeated crashing. You should also look out for unexpected changes in your web browser home page, web pages not displaying correctly, slower internet speeds, redirected internet searches and the random appearance of new toolbars or browser add-ons. Essentially, it can ruin your user experience entirely.

What can you do about it?

There may well be adware that you want to keep on your device. Legitimate ad supported software is fine to keep if it is operating with your consent and not having a negative impact on the performance of your device or web browsing experience. As adware can be legitimate, some anti-virus packages may struggle to determine if the software on your system is a threat. Therefore, it is vital to understand that downloading free software does almost always mean you are also downloading adware, so the best advice we can give is to inform yourself about what you are getting yourself into before clicking that download button.

Once adware has been installed on your device it may be possible to remove it manually if you are able to identify the relevant files. If not, it is also possible to purchase specific software which detects and removes malicious adware from your device. You might also want to consult a trusted professional who will be able to guide you on the best way forward. 

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