Adware is a form of malicious software or malware that is designed to inundate your computer with an excessive amount of online adverts and pop-ups that slows down your system and affects its performance. Often confused with legitimate advertising software, adware is a threat that can easily infect your computer without your knowledge or consent and pose several risks to your privacy. In this article, we’ll look into how adware works, what you should know about it, and how to safeguard against it.
## What is Adware?
Adware comes from two words; advertising and software. It is advertising software that generates revenue by displaying unwanted adverts to users. It works by collecting data on users’ browsing habits, searches, and interests, using it to deliver targeted ads. Adware can be installed on devices when one downloads free software, games, or applications from the internet that are bundled with them.
Adware often takes the form of pop-up windows or banners that appear on your computer screen, promoting products or services that you may not be interested in. Adware also uses several tactics to trick you into providing your personal information. Some adware may simulates alerts purported to come from Windows and claim there is a problem with your computer. You may be tempted to click on the alert, leading to the adware being installed on your computer.
## How Does Adware Work?
Adware works by collecting and transmitting information about your browsing habits and searches to an ad server, which delivers targeted ads to your computer. This data includes cookies, search history, browsing history, pages visited, IP address, and other overheard data on your device. Adware uses this information to determine the user’s interests and preferences.
Adware can also modify your browser settings to redirect you to sponsored pages or prevent you from accessing certain websites. It can also add toolbars or plug-ins to your browser that are designed to serve advertisements. Adware often utilizes hidden and hard-to-remove components, making its removal difficult.
## How to Identify Adware
Adware is not always easy to detect, as it often disguises itself as harmless software. However, signs of adware infection include frequent pop-ups, slow computer performance, a change in browser settings, and random error messages. Unwanted advertisements may also appear on web pages that do not typically have ads.
## Risks of Adware
Adware threatens users’ privacy by collecting and transmitting sensitive data to hackers and third-parties. This data can be used to serve targeted phishing attacks or malware downloads. Adware also poses a risk to the security of your computer system, as it can lead to the installation of other malware or viruses without your knowledge.
Another risk posed by adware is that it can impact the performance of your computer, causing it to slow down or freeze. Adware uses up valuable system resources and can drain your computer’s battery life.
## How to Remove Adware
Removing adware can be a daunting task, but there are several methods to get rid of it. Here are some of the ways to remove adware:
### 1. Use Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is one of the most effective tools for detecting and removing adware from your computer. Most antiviruses have an adware removal tool in their software that will scan and get rid of all adware files on your PC.
### 2. Uninstall the Adware Program
If you know the adware program installed in your computer, the easiest way to remove it is by uninstalling it. Here’s how:
- On Windows, go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Uninstall a Program.
- On Mac, go to Finder > Applications > drag the adware program to the Trash.
### 3. Reset Your Browser Settings
Adware can mess with your browser settings, so resetting them is a helpful way to get rid of adware. Here’s how:
- On Google Chrome, click on the three dots on the top-right of the page > Settings > Advanced > Reset and clean up > Reset settings and Confirm.
- On Mozilla Firefox, click on the three bars on the top-right of the page > Help > Troubleshooting Information > Refresh Firefox.
- On Safari, click on Safari > Preferences > Advanced > Show Develop menu in the menu bar, and then click on Develop > Empty Caches.
### 4. Manual Removal
Manually removing adware can be challenging and is recommended for advanced users. However, here’s a guide on how to remove adware manually on Windows and Mac.
In conclusion, adware is a threat that can easily infiltrate your computer and impact its performance and security. It is essential to always be cautious and download applications or software from trusted sources to avoid adware infections. Additionally, installing antivirus software can help to mitigate against the risk of adware infections. By being vigilant and regularly scanning your computer, you can minimize the impact of adware on your system and secure your data privacy.