Adware, also called ad injection sofware, is among the most common infection type you’ll encounter on the internet. Once installed, adware will modify your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc) and computer’s security settings, so it can shove more advertising into websites, create advertising popups, or replace good ads on sites you trust with junk ads.
Adware is a huge money maker for rogue developers. Each infected computer earns them more ad revenue, so the goal is to spread adware to as many computers as possible. In fact, the incentive is so strong, adware developers commonly partner up with websites and computer manufacturers, like Lenovo, to include adware in their products. Consider CNET, a popular download hub and technology review site. Scattered throughout CNET are ads promoting other software products. Some of those ads are disguised as parts of the website and might appear as “Download Now” buttons, intended to confuse the visitor into clicking. Once you click, it’s too late. Adware, and it’s information gathering counterpart spyware, can download and install very rapidly, sometimes invisibly, and compromise your system without your awareness.
Spyware doesn’t promote a product, needn’t install like a normal program, and might be entirely invisible to most users. Once infected, spyware quietly sits in your computer’s memory and collects personal information about you and your family. Most spyware will monitor your web browsing habits and send that information to adware networks. Nastier spyware can harvest passwords, contact lists, phone numbers, and credit card information.
Spyware and adware are commonly packaged together. If you have adware, you almost certainly are infected with spyware as well. Once installed, the adware will promote other products – some legitimate, some less so – every one of them irritating to users. Adware creates a cycle of infection that can be hard to break out of. Many of the ads are malicious and will harm your computer further if clicked. Some ads, for instance, might warn you of an infection or necessary update. Clicking these ads will take the user down a rabbit whole of alarmist claims and sleezy software. Poindexter recommends never downloading software that promises to fix any problem on your computer. Software which promises to optimize of update your Windows or Apple computer at best does nothing, at worst is just another source of infection.
Adware is also responsible for frequent tech support scams. They trick the user by promoting “free security scans”, which, when completed, warn of impending dangers from viruses, outdated drivers, or other mysterious sounding computer stuff. This is followed up with a push to buy overpriced software to fix the fake problem. You might even receive a call from a “certified tech something something”, who will try to convince you to purchase costly tech support. Their scare tactics are effective and cost American households hundreds of dollars in damage.
These problems are extremely common. In our experience, adware infections can come on gradually – an extra ad here or there – but the infection worsens and, eventually, the computer becomes entirely unusable. The computer might lose the ability to show websites or lose its internet connection all together. It might behave sluggishly or fail to start correctly. If you suspect your computer is infected with adware or spyware, call Poindexter (908-991-NERD) today for a low-cost cleaning and repair. Don’t leave your personal details in the wrong hands.