Adware Acquisition and Effects

This page discusses how adware may infect and affect victim’s computers including the performance and security concerns.

How do I get Adware?

Most people do not want adware deliberately installed on their computer systems. The creator will usually trick the victim into installing it on their computer system. There are several ways this can happen.

  • The victim may download and install a free program such as a game program and the adware comes with the “free” program.
  • The victim may download and run a movie or video clip from a web site. The site may download and run the adware program.
  • The victim may be tricked into answering a question about downloading and running some software and the description of the software is misleading.
  • The victim may visit a website that will take advantage of browser vulnerabilities or settings which will allow the infection to occur without the victim’s knowledge. This is a computer hack but may be done by a third party.
  • The victim may be tricked into clicking on a malicious hyperlink. Malicious hyperlinks look like they will take you to a particular site but in reality they will take you to another site.
  • The victim may get an internet worm that will install adware. Most firewalls will prevent internet worms.
  • The victim may get a virus that will install adware. Being careful handling email and email attachments can remedy this possibility.

How does adware affect my computer performance?

Adware can seriously slow down your computer system performance and cause instabilities for the following reasons.

  • It may make changes to the operating system to make its removal more difficult.
  • It may create many processes to prevent removal and ensure an abundance of displayed ads.
  • It is not “quality” software and is usually poorly written from a performance and stability perspective.
  • It will use part of your internet connection speed to display ads and thereby slow your legitimate traffic to the internet.
  • It may download other adware software from the same company or other partner companies.

Is there a computer security risk with Adware?

Adware poses a great security risk to computers that is is installed on. It is also a threat to any network infected computers operate on. This is because it can download and install other programs from the internet and operate similar to a hacker client tool. In essence, someone else has gained full control over your computer system!

Avoiding Adware

There are some rules of thumb which should help avoid adware.

  • Be very careful before downloading and installing any programs from the internet. Check your favorite search engine such as Google (and the Google groups section) to be sure other people are not having problems with it. If many people in group discussions are trying to remove the software, it is not likely to be safe. Read installation licensing and terms carefully. It may indicate whether other software is required to come with the program you want to install.
  • Avoid going to sites that may have questionable reputations, especially sites with an excessive amount of advertising popups. This will help prevent an accidental clicking on a popup which has been known to infect some systems.
  • Either use a browser other than Internet Explorer or change your Internet Explorer browser settings to make it more secure to use. For more information and to see how to make the changes see the article Making Internet Explorer More Secure.
  • Use some spyware/adware prevention software. See the Adware/Spyware Prevention Tools section for lists of this type of software.
  • Follow standard security recommendations. These recommendations are made by the experts for good reason and all internet users have the responsibility to take reasonable security precautions in order to prevent persons with evil intent from using their computer as a mechanism to attack others. Some of these recommendations include:
    • Use antivirus software and configure it to download updates daily.
    • Use a personal firewall at all times when cnnected to the internet.
    • Update your system for security patches often.See the article at Basic Computer Security for more information about security practices.