Over the past couple years, we have focused much attention on Ransomware, and that’s for good reason. However old threats are still here to make our digital lives miserable as well. One of the oldest surviving threats we continue to deal with is adware.
There’s no denying that adware is a big problem. In fact 2016 saw a huge spike in Mac OS malware, mostly due to bundled adware. Google has tried tackling this problem by kicking known adware distributors out of the Play Store.
Google is perhaps the most aggressive trying to battle adware today because Android especially has seen a great deal of adware in recent years.
Earlier this year, a number of Android phones were discovered to have been infected with powerful adware. The “infection” took place somewhere between the factory, and the business that ordered them. That means some Android phones were purchased with adware pre-installed!
Keeping Alert for Adware
As with any other type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to be aware if them – and what they are. Here are four things to watch out for.
If Ads Abound on Your PC – Don’t Panic But You Do Need to Act
If you’ve been infected with adware, you’re going to be seeing a lot of ads. Pop-ups, in-app ads, browser takeovers, and all sorts of other annoying behaviors might happen.
Different types of adware behave differently.
However one thing that they all have in common is that they will show you a huge number of ads. You’ll notice more ads, more insistent and pervasive ads, and ads outside of the locations where you usually see them. If you’ve been seeing any of this stuff, download anti-adware software right away.
Just don’t get it from…
Third-Party App Stores
The same rule for desktop and laptop software applies. Unless the app isn’t available from the Windows or Mac app stores — and you can’t find it on the developer’s website — avoid third party software download sites.
Watch for the Warnings
No matter where you’re getting an app, make sure to at least browse the terms and conditions first. You just might save yourself the hassle of trying to deal with the problem later.
Avoid Free Versions of Software
If you found a place to download Microsoft Office for free, run the other way. You’re not going to get high-end, fully featured apps without paying. Someone might be offering it, but they’re probably offering a few other things that they aren’t telling you about, very likely adware – or worse.
Even apps that are normally free often carry some sort of adware. Ironically a number of illegitimate anti-virus apps have been discovered to come bundled with malware.
Always be very careful about where you get your software.
What to Do If You’ve Been Infected
Here are some warning signs to watch out for.
Have you noticed a lot more pop-ups than usual lately? Or advertisements that you can’t close? If you see a new toolbar (these are very popular), a new default search engine (also a common symptom), new programs that you don’t remember installing, or new bookmarks in your browser, you are then more likely infected with adware.
Do your best not to interact with any of these ads, as that may make the problem worse. Close — force close, if you need to — those apps and download an anti-adware application as soon as possible. Here are three choices that will help you rid your computer of adware for free.
Malwarebytes AdwCleaner (Windows)
AdwCleaner is free, and all you have to do is download it and run it. It doesn’t get much easier.
BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition (Windows)
Another company with a great reputation, BitDefender is at the forefront of anti-malware tech. This lightweight antivirus app protects you from all sorts of mayhem, including adware and spyware. It also packs anti-phishing and anti-fraud features for additional protection.
While you get more features out of the paid version of this app, the free option is still a great way to go.
While some of anti-adware software out there only works on Windows computer, Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software will protect your Mac from attacks. This extremely lightweight client is great even if your Mac is starting to get old and slow down.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Macs don’t get adware. They do. So download this now.
And if you’re looking for mobile anti-adware apps, check out Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. It’s free on the Play Store.
Be Proactive Against Adware
As with any type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to not get infected in the first place. Make sure you have an up-do-date antivirus solution running on your computer, watch out for suspicious-looking sites, and remember that the best things in life aren’t free. Especially when it comes to software.