What is AdWare and How to Stop It
The concept of adware started as something positive and well-intended, but like many things on the Internet, it quickly got ruined by unscrupulous greedy people. Originally, it was about allowing developers to provide their applications for free, supporting them through advertisements shown to the user somewhere on the application interface. This was a good middle ground for both sides, and even though the ads could get annoying occasionally, it was still worth the hassle to get a good tool for free.
This system is actually still in use in some applications today, like uTorrent, but it’s on a decline. Part of the reason for that is the negative connotation that the word AdWare tends to have nowadays, and that’s mostly caused by the greedy people we mentioned above. So what happened?
The annoying kind of AdWare
Nowadays, adware can take on much more aggressive forms, such as showing you pop-ups outside of any application (as a new window on your desktop), making noises and flashing your screen, or even directly opening your browser to the advertiser’s website. Sometimes the pop-ups may even be impossible to close until you’ve clicked on them, adding even more to the annoyance.
Most of the time these programs come as “helpful” add-ons served alongside the installation of another, seemingly legitimate product. Many software developers choose to partner up with shady vendors who add things like these to their programs, believing the extra source of revenue to be worth it. So you’d download something like an image editor or a chat program, and in the installation, there will be a small checkbox asking you to install a separate piece of adware which is the real troublemaker. Often, that checkbox will be conveniently tucked away and may even be hard to click.
How do I stop it?
Stopping AdWare has two sides – preventive action and getting rid of it once it’s already on your computer. For the first part, you will want to pay attention to what you’re installing on your computer. This doesn’t only refer to the sites you’re using to download your programs from – also pay attention to the actual installation procedure! As we mentioned above, it’s often a matter of ticking the wrong checkbox once for all the trouble to begin.
On the other hand, once you already have adware on your system, things get a bit trickier. You’ll need a good antivirus program to get rid of it, and you’ll probably want to keep it running permanently afterwards too. If it got through once, it’s possible that it’s already started downloading and installing other applications in the background, making things even more difficult for you. That’s just the nature of modern adware, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for it if your system suddenly gets infected to the point of showing you multiple pop-ups by the minute, and slowing down to a near halt. And unfortunately, in some cases the only way to get rid of the problem is to completely wipe the computer and reinstall its operating system from scratch.