Adware on PC

Anyone browsing online will know how irritating pop-up ads are. No matter where you click, there’s always a chance of a new tab or window automatically opening up to tell you “how to make $10,000 a month,” “how to get fit with this one trick” or something definitely NSFW.

These annoying advertisements are usually harmless. However, if you’re seeing a suspicious number of pop-up ads on your device, you may have a case of adware.

This type of malware sneaks onto your device and displays an abundance of unwanted ads. Not only is this annoying, but adware can also cause your PC, tablet or smartphone to slow down, drain its battery life and even lead to dangerous, data-snatching malware.

So, what is adware, and how do you remove it? We’ve got you covered below.

What is adware?

Also known as advertising-supported software, adware is software that automatically displays numerous online advertisements on a user’s screen. It’s a way for threat actors to generate revenue by displaying ads and luring users into clicking on them.

This annoying software is generally less harmful than most malware, as developers mainly use it to make money by displaying continuous ads without harming the user. This can be done through pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-view (PPV) and pay-per-install (PPI). The more ads you see or click, the more profit the threat actor will automatically make – this is why many ads pop up on your smartphone, tablet and PC.

Unlike the ads you see appear on webpages, adware is software that installs on your device disguised as a legitimate program or app. It can request your device to show windows over apps or windows, making navigating around your device frustrating. What’s more, it can evade detection by hiding its presence from a device’s list of installed apps or replacing an icon of an app or program you download to make it difficult to spot.

While less harmful, it can trick users into downloading malware, too. The ads that pop up can lead to malicious websites, and clicking the wrong link will expose your device to malware.

Is adware dangerous?

As far as malicious software goes, adware can be more irritating than harmful. In fact, developers use pop-up ads when creating free apps or programs as a way to generate revenue. After all, a free app with a few pop-ads will see more attention than one you have to pay for on any app store. You’ll find plenty of mobile games and utilities that throw plenty of advertisements on displays.

That said, there are different types of adware out there, and many aren’t so harmless. For example, it can come in potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). As it says on the tin, these are apps or programs you may not have intentionally installed on your device.

Malware on iPhone

Adware in PUAs or PUPs can be used by developers to unknowingly (or knowingly) distribute other forms of malware, such as viruses, spyware and more. This comes from the different ads that are displayed, as when clicked on, it could lead to a dodgy website or install malicious software. While some app developers may not know that the ad-based software used is showing malware-infested ads, some threat actors use this method to intentionally distribute their malware.

Closing a bunch of pop-ads on your device can be a bother, but adware can also be dangerous. In either case, it’s a good idea to get rid of it.

Signs of adware

Adware can be easy to spot, as you’ll see many advertisements pop up out of nowhere, but other symptoms will notify you that your device needs some cleaning. This includes redirecting your browser to different web pages (like Google redirecting to Bing) and installing unwanted toolbars, extensions or plugins. However, it can also affect your device directly.

  • Your device is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
  • Your browser is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
  • Browsing through websites takes longer.
  • You need to recharge your device more often.
  • Overheating.
  • Apps take longer to load.
  • Slower internet speeds.
  • There’s an unknown app or software on your device you didn’t download.

How to remove adware

Removing adware from your device is easy. You can do it manually or have other apps do it for you, with the latter being the easiest option. That said, you can simply delete a suspicious app or program to eradicate the malicious software, too.

Use adware removers and antivirus software

The best way to get rid of any malicious software that sneaks onto your device is to use an adware removal tool or antivirus software.

Many free adware removal apps will quickly dispatch any ad-based software lingering on your device. But it’s a good idea to ensure these tools are trustworthy, as hackers can also disguise these apps to deploy more malware. We recommend free apps from known cybersecurity companies, including Avast One and Malwarebytes Mobile Security. These will detect and remove any adware on your Android.

The best antivirus software comes with a suite of security features that eliminate unwanted adware and any virus, malware, ransomware, spyware or malicious software that burrows into your phone, tablet or PC. Some antivirus software, such as Bitdefender, offers security subscriptions specifically for certain devices, making it more affordable.

Remove adware on PC

  • Use the search tool along the taskbar and type Control Panel on your Windows PC. Click on it.
Google redirects to Bing fix 3
  • In the window that pops up, select Uninstall a program under Programs.
Google redirects to Bing fix
  • Select any suspicious programs you don’t trust or don’t look familiar. Double-click or right-click to Uninstall.
  • Once uninstalled, restart your device and run a scan using antivirus software.
Google redirects to Bing fix

Remove adware on iOS

  • On your device, press the necessary buttons to turn off your device.
  • Turn your device on again by holding the power button.
  • Once it lights up, hold down the volume down button until you see the Apple logo. Your iPhone should now be in Safe Mode.
Remove adware on iPhone
  • Tap and hold any suspicious or unwanted apps.
  • Tap Delete App. Restart your device to go back to normal mode.

Remove adware on Android

  • On your Android, press the necessary buttons to turn off your device.
  • Tap and hold the Power off icon.
  • Press OK to reboot to safe mode. This will restart your device.
How to remove adware on Android
  • Once restarted, head to Settings.
  • Navigate to Apps.
  • Select any suspicious apps you wish to remove.
  • Tap Uninstall. Restart your device to go back to normal mode.
How to remove adware on Android

For a deeper dive into removing adware on iPhone or removing adware on Android, we’ve got you covered.