What is an Adware?
Adware is a category of ad-displaying applications and programs that seek to flood the users’ screens with promotional materials. Adware is mostly harmless to the system but could potentially serve as a gateway for more dangerous software and, because of that, must be avoided. In this post, we will give you a list of useful tips and guidelines that can help you with preventing the installation of Adware on your computer or mobile device so we strongly recommend that you carefully read the next lines and try to implement the advice provided in them as much as possible.
As we said, Adware is not as dangerous as more advanced malware forms, including Trojans, Spyware, or Ransomware, but this doesn’t mean you should not try to keep it away fro your computer. If an Adware gets installed in your system, not only will it constantly bother you with its aggressive generation of ads, banners, box messages, and pop-ups, but it may also eventually trick you into downloading a more dangerous program that can cause actual damage to the system or to your data. In addition, most Adware apps are known for collecting data from the user’s browsers, which typically gets sold and re-sold to third parties who may end up targeting you with even more harmful ads. Furthermore, Adware is oftentimes responsible for performance issues such as slow-downs, browser freezes, and even crashes of the computer/device.
Now that we have briefly established why it is essential you keep such software away from your system, let us tell you more about the best ways you could achieve this.
How to prevent adware attacks?
Basic safety habits
The first and most important rule you should adhere to if you want to keep your browser and system clean from adware or other unwanted software is to always use your common sense while on the Internet. The number one reason users get such undesirable apps added to their browsers is carelessness and lack of caution. If, for instance, you see a sketchy-looking link that an unknown user has sent you via an email message or social media chat, you should obviously not click on the link. The same rule applies to any type of suspicious-looking content you may encounter online. Only interact with stuff on the Internet that you can be relatively sure are safe. Anything that doesn’t seem reliable and trustworthy ought to be avoided. Some examples of types of content that could be (and oftentimes are) used for Adware distribution are files and links included in spam email or social media messages, fake download links added to the pages of file-sharing sites, fake update request, too-good-to-be-true online offers, big, flashy browser banners and pop-ups, odd-looking ads, etc.
Keeping away from unreliable sites
Normally, misleading content that could get you Adware can be found on unreliable, low-quality, and/or illegal sites, which brings us to our second prevention tip: Do not go to sites that you cannot trust. We understand that it could sometimes (oftentimes) be tempting to visit a certain website that you know you should probably not go to. In such cases, try to think about the potential consequences of visiting the site and interacting with its contents – sure you may not necessarily get an Adware but, on the other hand, it’s possible you get far worse types of malware on your computer/mobile device if you proceed to the site. In the end, it all comes down to risk management and deciding whether or not it’s worth putting your system’s safety in jeopardy over something as trivial as visiting a potentially unreliable website.
Be careful what you download
The third tip we want to give you concerns the choices you make when you download new software. This is where most users get it wrong – we all know that we aren’t supposed to click on sketchy stuff we come across on the Internet or visit questionable sites. However, adware apps are oftentimes hidden within seemingly legitimate software that people download every day. In many cases, adware isn’t distributed as separate software but as an element incorporated within another program or app. There are numerous examples of different forms of software that carry adware elements. In most cases, the programs and apps that contain ad-displaying elements are ones that are distributed and can be downloaded for free. It makes sense – the ads are an alternative way for the software’s devs to make money without making their users pay for the product. However, in many cases, the frustrating effects of the ads significantly outweigh any positive traits that the program might have, in which case it’s best to avoid that program. Here, there’s actually no universal rule to follow in order to avoid adware. The best thing you could do is research each and every free app and program you are about to download to find out what other users have said about it. If there are lots of complaints about aggressive advertisements, it’s probably best to look for an alternative program. If, however, you are still determined to download that specific one, at least be sure to carefully explore its setup settings, including Custom/Advanced installation menu to find out if there are any added optional adware elements and uncheck them so that they don’t get installed. Reading the terms of the License Agreement could also help you see if there are any unwanted optional components added to the program.
Another option is to go for the paid version of the product in question. It is a rarity for developers to put ads inside their paid products seeing as how the ads themselves are oftentimes used as a means of getting people to upgrade to the paid version(s) of the program.
Make your browser safer
Next, we need to say a couple of words about your browser, because many adware apps exploit weaknesses in its settings in order to get installed. First, you need to make sure you are using a reliable, security-focused browser and that it has its latest update installed at all times. Obvious choices here are Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari and, in most cases, their updates should get installed automatically. Also, make sure that all browser features related to security are enabled.
Additionally, getting an ad-blocker is a very good way of keeping ads that may serve as adware-distributing download buttons away from your screen. However, be careful when picking an ad-blocker because some low-quality ad-blockers may be turn out to be as bad as adware (if not worse). Some browsers like Opera and Slimjet have pretty effective built-in ad-blockers, which removes the need to look for one yourself.
Finally, you should make sure to go to the settings of your browser, find the security section, and enable everything that can potentially help you prevent adware installations. A great tip here is to set your browser to always ask you where you want to save each file before the file is downloaded. That way, files will never get automatically downloaded and you will always have time to decide if any particular file that is about to get saved on your system is safe or if it should be stopped from getting on your computer.
Have a reliable security program
Last, but not least, do not forget to install a reliable antivirus and/or anti-malware tool on your computer/smartphone. This might sound like a no-brainer but it is still an important precaution measurement that mustn’t be ignored. Typically, anti-malware tools seem to do better against malware as those are more specialized to deal with such types of unwanted software, whereas antivirus programs focus on more traditional types of threats such as Trojans, Viruses, and Spyware.
And there you have it, these few simple tips, when applied correctly and with consistency, should allow you to keep adware away from your computer in almost all cases.