Why Adware Is Not as Innocent as It Appears to Be

March 31st, 2020

Imagine you’re using your PC one day, just browsing the web. And suddenly you’re bombarded with ads, all of which are saying practically the same thing. “Click me and you’ll find a website with tons of offers, just for you.” If you’re wondering why you’re seeing these ads, think back a few days. Do you remember giving permission to an application to download on your computer? If yes, that was an adware application, and its job is to show you these ads.

Adware asks for consent to download – often in an underhanded way, and with confusing user agreements.

The time to start worrying is if you have no memory of having ever said yes to a download. This means a malicious adware has found a home on your PC/Mac. And here’s some food for thought: your Mac is two times more likely to be infected with adware, as compared to a PC.

Why should we worry about adware?

It’s just an advertisement, right? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, here’s a scenario for you, straight out of a cyberpunk horror movie. You click on an ad that has popped up on your screen. You visit a site with an amazing offer lined up for you. You get sucked in, share your details (personal and financial), and you can’t stop thinking how lucky you are. It’s a few days before you realize something’s gone wrong. Your financial details are being misused. Your personal details are being used against you (read: blackmail). And your PC has taken on a life of its own. More bad news follows– a data breach at your company is tracked to your PC.

All the horrifying things mentioned above, or at least some of them, can come true. And all because you underestimated the seriousness of adware. When surreptitiously downloaded onto your computer, adware can be used as a backdoor to deliver malware on your computer and steal data.

Unleashing their dastardly potential

So how does malicious adware wreak havoc? It could start from something as innocuous as downloading freeware or shareware and getting adware as a “bonus.” Or you can land on a malicious website and adware is installed on your computer without your knowledge. This is the adware you must worry about. There is every chance that this adware has malicious intent and has more in store for you and your PC than just ad bombardment.

A well-configured adware has the capability to modify the home page of your browser and the default search engine. Malicious results can be inserted into the search pages and it could even ensure that you see rogue advertisements on trustworthy sites.

Become more aware about adware’s malicious intent

Cyber threats are evolving continuously, so how much you know about these threats and how to combat them should increase exponentially. When it comes to adware, don’t think of them as annoyances but rather as having the capacity to be extremely destructive. The first step towards staying away from them is the acceptance that adware is dangerous. Let’s not discriminate between adware and bad adware. Adware is bad. Period.

The second step is to share this awareness with your family, especially your children. They will be more susceptible to adware and there are more opportunities for them to land on a bad website and click malicious links.

Thirdly, you must be proactive about securing your PC or Mac and install comprehensive antivirus software with a powerful adware removal tool. Here’s the thing about security and adware, though. Adware can lead you to a malicious site that installs malware on your computer, which means you need a powerful malware scanner and removal tool onboard as well. You need extensive security installed on your PC/Mac to ensure cyber threats are kept at bay.

The final word on adware – take this threat very seriously from the cybersecurity perspective, and make sure you always keep a lookout for adware on your computer.

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