With the ostensibly harmless nature of adware, we are constantly tricked into believing that they are nothing but online nuisances. But underneath, they are marketing-engineered software that could potentially carry malicious programs to target your browsing behavior and spy on your other online activities.
What is adware and why does it exist?
Upfront, adware are just annoying ads that pop up every now and then. They come in an assortment of freeware such as toolbars and plugins, icons, wallpapers, advanced search engines, and other lifestyle widgets and work in conjunction with these software and other programs to spy, collect data, and integrate itself into your web browser. While online ads originally exist on the context of yielding revenue based on impressions (frequency of visits on ads), adware could harm your online privacy and security. Most adware companies operate on the fringe of ethical practices (e.g., once in, some would hijack innocent users’ homepage, search engine browser, etc.) and use underhanded tactics to ensure customer loyalty.
How does adware affect your computer?
Because adware covertly piggybacks on the freeware you download, you don’t know that your system is running adware when you begin to install these free programs. Adware can have various routines such as bombarding you with pop-up ads, leading you to harmful or fake websites, offering bogus adware/ foisware removal or antivirus software or gaining full access to your computer. Adware could run in the background of your programs and as well of your computer, causing your network to slow down and become unstable. It spies on your browsing behavior and gathers private information about you to be sold to third parties or other cybercriminals. Adware could hijack clicks without your knowledge or without having to run the freeware you downloaded, prompting your computer to become unbearably slow and unstable. Additionally, adware also mines bitcoins which results in unexpected high electric consumption. Bitcoin mining gives remote attackers illegal commission from processing transactions, making you an indirect tool of cybercrime.
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