How often is your browsing experience interrupted with get-rich-quick advertisements, bogus virus warnings, or miracle weight loss program advertisements? Some of us may be innocently browsing the web only to find advertisements pop up, slide in from the side, or even redirect our activity. In frustrating fashion, no matter how many times you close those windows, they continue to be a nuisance—and the culprit is often adware.

Adware is a potentially unwanted program, or PUP, designed to bring advertisements to the forefront of your screen, most often via a web browser. Adware can be crafty in its behavior, either masking itself as legitimate or by bundling itself with free software. While adware may be disruptive to users, it’s generally not considered inherently malicious. That being said, adware can install rootkits and hooks into the operating system, displaying the common traits of malicious software. Some adware may analyze your location and which web sites you visit most often, and then present advertisements related to the types of services or goods featured there. If the adware developer sells your browsing behavior and information to third parties, they can target you with even more advertisements tailored to your viewing habits.

Below are a few signs that you may have adware on your device:

  • Your browser’s homepage mysteriously changes.
  • Website links will redirect you to sites that are different from what you expected.
  • Your web browser may become incredibly slow.
  • New toolbars, extensions, or plugins suddenly appear in your browser without your approval.
  • Your browser crashes.

What you can do to:

  • Think twice before installing new software, especially freeware (e.g. toolbars, wallpapers, coupon printing).
  • It may seem tedious, but read and pay attention to what you are downloading and installing.
  • Avoid torrent sites and illegal downloads.
  • Use a reputable anti-malware/anti-virus program on your device.

If you’d like to learn more about how to practice safe computing, contact your Symplexity representative for more details!

Cassy is a Security Engineer here at Symplexity. With over 4 years of experience in cyber security, Cassy brings a critical eye to our Security Practice, ensuring that our client environments are protected from ever changing cyber threats. In her spare time, Cassy enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies and a good glass of wine.