Have you ever had a frustrating ordeal with adware on your computer or mobile device?
This is how it usually happens. You start to browse the internet to look for information, shop online, conduct a meeting, or for any other purpose using your trusted web browser. Then, out of nowhere and frustrating so, ads start to pop up or slide from the sides of the screen. You close one, and another one pops out almost immediately.
No matter how you try, some will not go away even after clicking close. For others, they will start redirecting you into new windows without your will, which disrupts your online activities significantly. To prevent this, antiviruses like McAfee can help you get rid of threats as explained in this post.
Apart from disrupting your online activities, some can even be dangerous to your computer or phone. They can expose your device for any opportunistic hacker to manipulate it. Your Chromebook can become a target as well, so learn how to deal with it in this article.
So, what is adware, and how do you get rid of it from your device?
What is Adware, and How to Get Rid of it?
Adware is short for advertising that is supported by software.
Look at it this way.
You plan for a date with your girlfriend, and you decide to take a hike into the woods. You carry along your favorite snacks to eat as you enjoy the environment in the woods.
But when you sit down to eat, suddenly there are uninvited flies as guests. However, much you try to get rid of the flies, they don't seem to go away. You get rid of one, and the next one pounces on your snack immediately.
Your food is the one attracting the flies. In the same way, money is the one that attracts adware to your computer or mobile phone. You go online, and immediately ads will start popping up or sliding from every side.
The company or organization responsible for the ads hopes you can open the ad, read through, and hopefully install their product.
Adware is unwanted software that brings advertisements to your screen, especially when using a web browser. It is free software that you can download and install on your device. It shows ads within the downloaded software to generate revenue.
Some adware is like free software. If you use the trial or free version of the software, then the ads will pop up, and you'll enjoy some features of the software. However, if you purchase the full-priced version of the software, you access all the software features, and the ads are no more.
You can view adware as a forerunner for the present-day PUP (potentially unwanted program). The adware can disguise itself as legitimate, or it can hide in another program to trick you into installing it on your computer or mobile device.
The adware installed in your device without your knowledge hijacks the device and starts to carry out unwanted tasks. The adware can start tracking your digital identity and all your online activities. It will track the online locations that you visit and start sending you ads for types of goods and services found in such sites.
While adware may seem harmless at first, it can be a serious cybersecurity threat, especially if the adware owners sell your online identity to a third party. They can use the information to bombard you with annoying advertisements related to your web browsing activities.
The cybersecurity threat can also include using your details to sell inappropriate content online, including pornographic materials. You are vulnerable to adware activities irrespective of the web browser you use. Adwares are a threat to your cybersecurity whether you use Firefox, Chrome, or any other browser.
Is Adware Different From Pop Ups?
Adware is a potentially unwanted program, and it makes you vulnerable to other cyber security attacks. Potentially unwanted programs also include malicious software such as web browser lockers, spyware, junkware, and annoying dialers.
Although the security companies categorize the programs as "potentially" unwanted, there is no need to have them on your device.
However, the programs still find their way into devices as most people don't pay close attention to what they download. Therefore, you end up installing the annoying program on your device without your knowledge. Try to uninstall the program later may not solve much as your details may be out there at the mercy of hackers.
Adware is also different from a virus. Adware is a form of malware, just like a virus on a computer or mobile phone. Malware is an umbrella name referring to the malicious software in a device. There are several categories of malicious programs under the umbrella name. Viruses corrupt files and can spread to new hosts on their own. Here's the latest review of the best anti malware software out there.
You also have ransomware that steals and holds your files and then demands a ransom to release them. Although adware is neither a virus nor ransomware, it still causes considerable damage, and the continuous disruption while online is annoying.
How Do You Install Adware On Your Device?
Sometimes you don't even realize it when you install adware on your Pc or mobile device. It can be an involuntary process that will start with a pop up on your computer, tablet, or phone screen.
Other times, the adware can piggyback on the software that you want to install on your device.
As such, the most common ways of installing adware on your device include downloads from pop-ups, bundled software, toolbars, and browser extensions.
Adware can conceal itself as something you need for your device, such as a video player. However, when you try to download the video player, you end up with an adware installer. It can also hide under a legitimate software download, which you get from unauthorized sites.
Adwares use deception, and they try to trick you into willingly downloading the software. They use different tricks, including having a "recommended" tag on their program.
There are several ways of dealing with adware, including using antivirus and to uninstall the program. But you'll win half the battle towards dealing with adware by ensuring you have a keen eye on the programs you download on your device.
Make sure that you download programs from authorized sites. Also, make sure you read the install wizards carefully to tell if what you want to download is what you need. Rushing over the install agreement and clicking on "Agree" without paying attention may expose you to a cybersecurity threat that may cost you a lot.
Types Of Adware
As mentioned earlier, when adware finds its way into your computer or mobile device, it mostly hijacks your web browser's processes.
They modify the web browser settings without your knowledge. They can also change the search engine settings and the homepage. Thus, you'll surf the internet and assume that the pop ups come from the website you visit.
Apart from changing your browser settings and tampering with your search engine, the adware can also affect your device's shortcuts that open the browser.
There are different adware for different devices and operating systems. These include:
Mobile Devices Adware
Mobile adware is the types that infect your mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones. Since there is not much screen real estate on your phone, it's easy to tell when your device is infected with adware.
You'll start noticing mysterious icons, or ads will start clogging your screen. Android apps can also contain adware that gets into your phone without warning.
You can get adware on your mobile device in various ways, including downloading apps and using your browser.
With downloaded applications, you get ads through the adware apps that you install on your phone. The ads can present themselves as full-screen ads that appear inside or outside of the infected app, to the lock screen or device notifications.
The adware app typically downloads from third party sources.
Clearing your history and cache can also help remedy the issue and prevent the ads from popping back.
Adware authors will mostly target individuals rather than businesses. They will track an individual until they get an opportunity to get them. They will target your phone, Mac, Windows PC, and all browsers.
The adware will conceal as an interesting element that you require such as a video player, new game, special deal, movie, and so on.
How Do You Protect Yourself From Adware?
The best way to protect your device adware programs infecting your phone and changing the search engine and browser settings is by practicing safe browsing.
You should be cautious, especially when downloading software. It will be a good idea to double-check the install agreement when downloading apps to ensure you don't install malicious software.
You can also protect your computer by ensuring that you only download software from authorized and legal sources. Avoid apps from illegal and unauthorized sources, and don't open apps from unknown sources even if they come from an email known to you.
You can also download cybersecurity software on your device. Ensure you keep your software up to date. Also, scan your PC and mobile devices for any adware often. It will also be of help if the cybersecurity program has an adblocker, or you can also get one separately.
Be cautious about what you click on your computer or mobile device. One of the surest ways of getting adware is by clicking right on an ad with infected adware.
Signs That You Have Adware On Your Computer Or Mobile Device
The best way to tell if an adware infection is in your device is to run a scan. It will be a good idea to download a reputable cybersecurity program and run scans for adware from time to time. The cybersecurity program will identify the adware and come in handy in removing adware.
Apart from using a cybersecurity program to know if your computer or mobile device is infected by adware, you can look out for the following signs:
You may be at risk of adware infection if your browser changes mysteriously without warning.
If you start getting advertisements in places that you don't expect
Your web browser becomes considerably slow
You start getting website links redirecting to other windows that you don't expect
If you also start noticing new extensions, toolbars, or plugins on your internet browser
The browser can also crash
If your computer, tablet, or phone starts to install new unwanted software programs automatically
You can also start to notice a spike in your data usage
The web pages that you frequent often may not look the same as they do other times
Adware is not entirely harmless. But it is more annoying than it is harmful to your device. The pop-ups and banner ads are disruptive as they appear unexpectedly as you surf the internet. You can also have windows opening unexpectedly, which can be annoying.
Fortunately, most of the adware is not difficult to remove.
Can Adware Steal Information?
At first, adware seems harmless as it is a way of software developers trying to generate income without charging the user. The pop-up ads come in handy in helping them cover the cost of making the software.
However, as harmless as they may be, some of the pop-ups come with adware that piggybacks on the software that you want.
The software takes over the operations of your computer, and it can carry out changes on the search engine, home page, and browser settings. The adware program can also track your online activities to tell the locations that you visit. Thus, they give you advertisements that are related to your online activities and the sites you visit. All that may seem harmless. Right?
After all, all you get is a harmless pop-up or banner ad. You close the pop-ups, and you are good to go.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Adware programs have a negative side known as spyware. As the name suggests, spyware spies and tracks your online activities and gets your data. This helps in targeting you with specific advertisements. It can then sell the data to third parties such as advertising agencies, government agencies, etc.
The advanced level of malicious spyware programs can also steal your information. They can steal your browser history, digital identity, passwords, contacts, and even your credit card information. The information they steal can be used in committing cybercrimes such as selling pornographic materials, cyberbullying, and inciting terrorism. It can also be used to misuse computer networks as well as hacking and bringing down websites.
How Do I Get Rid Of Adware For Free?
As much as adware is annoying and disruptive and can also be harmful to your device, getting rid of it is not difficult.
The process of removing adware programs may vary depending on various factors. For instance, the process to remove adware from a device with a windows operating system may be different from Mac devices. Check out the best antiviruses for Windows 10 here.
The process to remove the adware can also vary depending on the type of adware present. For instance, some adware may not have an uninstall option. As such, it will be difficult to go to your device and just uninstall the adware.
Other types of adware are present as browser extensions. As such, you need to follow the specific process of extension removal for the particular browser.
If the adware is more complex and doesn't have an uninstall option, you can use a tool to remove the adware.
However, it is not an easy task landing on the best adware removal tool since several are in the market. Some don't live up to the expectations and fail in removing the malware.
Additionally, some tools are themselves types of adware concealed as removal tools. You use them on your device, and you end up with even more problems.
So, how do you ensure you have the right software tool for the job?
Before you can settle on a tool to remove adware, check out its reviews to ensure that it can perform the following:
- Ease of use: the best tool to use to remove adware should be effortless to use for both novice and advanced users. It's illogical if you have an adware removal program that you can't use, as that will make it difficult to eliminate the adware. The tool should have an intuitive interface, and it would also help if it comes with instructions on how to use it
- Real-time protection: it would be better to prevent the adware than wait to remove it when the damage is done. Thus, the tool you choose to remove adware should provide real-time protection against adware and other malware types such as viruses and spyware.
- Adware removal: some tools may not be effective in their job. Therefore, it's essential that you find out whether the tool can remove adware from your computer, tablet, phone, or your browser
- Web protection: your computer or mobile device is infected with adware because it doesn't have internet protection. It will help if you get a tool that offers online protection such as identity theft protection, a virtual private network (VPN), etc
So, how do you remove adware from Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices?
How To Remove Adware From Windows
First, go to the taskbar and then click on the start button and then select "Settings."
When the settings window is open, click on "Apps," and you will automatically be directed to "Apps and Features." If you are not redirected, you can go to the list on the left side and select apps.
When the "Apps and Features" option is open, you'll get a list of all the programs and apps you have on your computer. Go through the list and see if you can identify the malicious program that has been installed.
When you find it, highlight it, and then click on "Uninstall."
Look out for programs that you have not installed yourself or programs that don't look legitimate.
After that, confirm the uninstalling process by clicking "Uninstall." Use the prompts to complete the uninstallation process.
Make sure you read the prompts carefully and understand them. This ensures you are thorough in the installation process as some adware can try to sneak back some details using the uninstallation process prompts.
You should also check out for malicious extensions on the browser you use on your Windows device.
For the Chrome browser, click on the menu icon, which is three horizontal lines at the browser's top right side. After that, click on "Settings" and then go to the "Extensions" option. Look out for any extension that you may not have added, and it doesn't look genuine.
If you get one, click on the trash icon to get rid of the extension.
For the Firefox browser, click the open menu, which is three lines on the top right corner. Next, select "Add ons" and then click "Extensions." Check through the list to see if there is an extension that you don't recognize. If there is any adware disguised as an extension, click on it once and then click "Disable."
For the Internet Explorer browser, go to "Tools" and then manage "Add-ons." You will then see a list of all the installed extensions. If you recognize adware, click "Disable" and then "Close."
The adware also affects your browser settings and search engine.
To check if the adware has hijacked your Chrome browser, go to "Settings" and then click "Set Pages." You should get a blank page or a page that you had customized yourself. If you see any other page, press X to delete it.
You should also check the search engine to ensure it has not been messed up. To verify the search engine on Chrome, go to "Settings" and then click "Manage Search Engines." Select your favorite search engine and make it the default search engine. Ensure that the URL on the right and the search engine name on the left are a match. If not, delete the page.
To verify the Firefox browser's search engine, click "Open menu," and then go to the "Options." Choose your preferred search engine such as Yahoo or Google. Make sure it is a reputable search engine. If you see any search engine that you don't recognize, click on it once and then select remove.
Finally, on the Windows operating system, check the programs that have been selected to run automatically when the computer boots. If you click the startup tab, you will get a list of all the programs that starts to run automatically when you boot the device.
Go through the list and see if you can recognize any adware program. If you see a name of a program that you are not sure about, you can use another device that is not infected to search and confirm the program's name.
If you want to remove any program, click on it once and then press "Remove."
When you are through with the settings, save them, and restart your device to apply.
How To Remove Adware From Mac
How To Remove Adware On Android
How To Remove Adware On iOS
However, with its advanced security features, it makes it impossible to install apps from third parties that you may want for your phone. As such, many users prefer jailbreaking the smartphone to allow installing of apps from third parties.
How To Remove Adware In Simple Steps
When you want to remove adware from your device, you can follow the following easy steps:
Step 1: Back up your files
Backup your data to the cloud or on an external drive. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that you don't lose your data during the cleaning process.
Step 2: Download an adware removal tool
There is no shortage of adware removal tools in the market, and some of them are not genuine. Some are adware themselves but disguised as adware removal tools. Therefore, you need to be sure that the tools you use are genuine.
Some of the most popular adware removal tools include the free version of Malwarebytes and Adwcleaner.
Before you can run the tool, you can check the various adware on your device and see if they have an uninstall option. If it has the option, click on removing the adware and then restart the computer.
Step 3: Run a scan using the adware removal tool
After running a scan using the software, it will identify the adware in your device. After that, the software will quarantine the adware to decide whether you want to delete the malicious programs or not.
It would be best to delete and get rid of the malware and all its residues.
Using Malwarebytes free
Malwarebytes free version is the most popular anti-malware security software.
It is free and can eliminate most types of malware that other tools miss.
The best thing is that you can run it together with another antivirus, and there will be no conflict between the two.
To use Malwarebytes, first, download it from a reliable source. When the download is complete, double-click on the MB setup to install the software on your device.
During the installation process, you will get a user control pop up requesting you to allow the software to make changes to your computer. You should click "Yes" to continue with the process of installation.
The software installation process is easy as you have an installation wizard that guides you in the process. The installer will also ask you if you are installing the software on a personal computer or work computer.
Choose the personal computer and then click "Install."
When the process is complete, the program will open, and you should continue to click on "Get started."
Select the free version of the program and proceed to scan your device for any malware. The process can take a while, and when it is complete, the software will display a list of all the malware it finds. Click on "Quarantine" to eliminate the malware and then reboot your device to complete the process.
Adware can be annoying when you are surfing the internet. They keep disrupting your online activities, which can be frustrating. Apart from the annoyance, some types of adware can also be spyware. They spy on your online activities and can also steal your data, including passwords, contacts, etc. Therefore, it's essential that you get rid of the adware as soon as possible. Here, we have the different ways that you can use to eliminate adware for Android, Windows, Mac, and iOS devices.