Adware is a computer program, which is used for advertising. Once installed on the system, such app displays advertisements that appear in a web browser, pop-up windows, special toolbars or within the host program. Adware-type program also can gather information about user’s browsing habits and then send it out to its developers. Such information is needed for showing targeted advertisements and collecting general statistics. Nevertheless, these developers may sell such data to unknown parties that are trying to collect email addresses and similar information for their own needs.
Adware is divided into parasitical/suspicious and legitimate. Illegal advertising programs are very similar to spyware parasites: they can be installed without user’s consent, run in PC’s background and collect users’ personally non-identifiable information for marketing and advertising reasons. In addition, they may follow their victims while they are browsing on the web and interrupt each of search sessions with their misleading pop-up notifications. After being clicked, these ads may redirect people to malicious websites.
Legitimate adware applications are harmless. They do not track users and their activity on the Internet. However, they can cause commercial content during your browsing in order to promote ad-supported products. Legitimate programs, such as Opera web browser or Eudora mail client, can also be categorized as ‘adware’.
Adwares are spread around not like regular viruses. They do not use trojans and similar malicious components when they want to enter your PC system. Instead of that, they rely on two different distribution techniques and can be installed either with or without user’s content. Here is how adware-type program can get into your PC system:
- Almost each of adware-type programs has its own official website presenting it as a useful tool, for example, a powerful web search service or a useful shopping helper. If you are tricked into believing that such application will help you to save the money, you can end up with adware on your computer. Unfortunately but the most of such programs appears to be useless after some time. You should be capable of uninstalling adware manually, but this is not the best solution when trying to get rid of its ads. That’s because you may leave additional adware components on your PC. If they are left, they may remain fully functional.
- There are lots of free programs (freeware and shareware products) that have been bundled with adwares. They are spread in exchange for money and if the user fails to monitor installation of the freeware, he/she may end up with unwanted browser add-on, extension, plugin, toolbar and similar adware. Uninstalling the host application does not help to get rid of related adware. This distribution method is the most common when promoting adwares and similar parasites, such as browser hijackers.
It is also known that sometimes adware-type programs can be downloaded to the system after clicking on misleading pop-up ads. They can also be dropped by specific spyware, worms or trojans but this is not a frequent case.
- Continuous pop-up ads, banners and in-text links.
- Redirects to affiliate websites that are trying to increase their popularity and sales.
- Installation of additional components, like advertising toolbars, other adwares and undesirable third-party software.
- Tracking of user’s web browsing habits and gathering information about user’s interests, mostly visited websites, entered data, etc. Once collected, all data is sent to a remote server.
- Degrading overall system’s performance. Some adware parasites are badly programmed, so they can cause system slow downs and software instability.
- Updating itself via the Internet and failing to provide the complete uninstall feature.
There are plenty of different adware parasites. The following examples illustrate typical adware behavior.
SalePlus is an example of a typical adware parasite. Few years ago this threat and its variants were installed on thousands of computers around the world. It is not a dangerous application but it may cause tons of annoying advertisements while you are browsing on the Internet. In addition, it can start recording your mostly visited websites or keywords that you enter when visiting various online sites. SalePlus can easily show up on your computer without your approval because it has been spread with the help of bundling. You may run into problems when trying to remove this program because some of its components may be hidden deep inside your computer.
Another example of adware is called Vaudix. It is promoted as a great solution for video and audio streaming but it may also cause commercial content during your browsing. For that, it displays various advertisements, causes redirects and collects information about users’ browsing activity. Some people have reported about system instability and similar issues that were caused while this program was installed on their computers.
Offers4U is yet another infamous adware parasite. It displays large amount of undesirable advertisements and pop-ups and collects information about a computer and user’s browsing habits. However, these are the most harmless functions of Offers4U. The parasite may also lead you to the infiltration of additional adware. It can also have ability to record your email address, computer’s IP address and its location.Finally, you may find serious problems when trying to find its uninstaller.
As it was said above, adwares are quite similar to browser hijackers, therefore they can be uninstalled either manually or with the help of popular antivirus and anti-spyware products. In order to avoid leaving unwanted components that belong to adware-type programs on your computer, you should use special anti-spyware tools. These programs are filled with special parasite signature databases that allow them to detect and eliminate the most of their components. The most effective and popular anti-spyware programs are SpyHunter, STOPzilla, Malwarebytes Anti Malware.
In some cases even a spyware remover can fail to get rid of a particular parasite. That is why there are Internet resources such as 2-Spyware.com, which provide manual spyware and adware removal instructions in each of adware descriptions. These instructions will help you to fix your computer manually. However, keep in mind that manual removal requires fair system knowledge and therefore can be a quite difficult task if you are a new computer user.