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How Do You Know If Your PC is Infected with Adware

Posted on: 10/03/11

Adware is a malicious piece of software that is programmed to display, play, and download unwanted advertisements automatically to your computer. The usual symptom of an adware infected PC is pop-up ads, but that’s not all. If you do not see pop-up ads on your computer, that does not guarantee your machine is adware free! To confirm, you will have to dig deep into your PC’s behavior and look for other symptoms.

1. Hijacked Browser: Browser hijacking is a form of adware attack, which changes the way your web browser behaves. This type of adware is created for commercial advertising, or marketing purposes. But, how do you know if your PC has been compromised with this type of adware? Well, it’s pretty easy to tell when your browser has been hijacked, just  look for the following symptoms:

  • A new browser homepage that you did not set comes up.
  • If you click on a hyperlink or search engine result and are sent to a website that you were not suppose to be sent to.
  • A new search bar in your web browser appears that you did not install.
  • Unknown “Favorites” or “Bookmarks” appear in your web browser, which you did not set.

2. Unknown Toolbars & Applications: If you see new toolbars in your web browser or applications in your PC’s program list that you did not install, chances are that your PC is infected with adware. Adware is often embedded or bundled with freeware programs such as browser toolbars, applications, games, etc. These programs are usually marketed to offer free functionality enhancements for your computer. When a user installs it on his/her computer, they unknowingly install malicious adware tools as well. Once installed, adware may monitor and collect your personal data, browsing habits, and search terms and send it to a third party server which then delivers targeted advertisements back to you.

Remember that not all freeware is bundled with adware or other infections. However, those programs that are unknown to you and cannot be removed by performing the usual uninstallation process can be considered adware!

3. Excessive Targeted Advertisement: Targeted advertisement is a technique used by many companies, where specific ads are displayed to a specific audience or individual, based on their browsing history. Companies usually achieve this by tracking users’ browser cookies, but most of the major browsers these days allow users to opt-out of targeted advertising. Targeted advertisements on some occasions can be helpful, but if you start seeing these advertisements excessively, even after you chose to opt-out, your PC could be infected with adware!

4. Slow Computer Performance:  Last but not least, just like any other computer infection, if your PC has suddenly become sluggish, there could be adware impacting your system’s performance. Some common symptoms are:

In order to stay safe against adware and other malicious attacks, you should always have one or more security programs installed and up-to-date with the latest virus protection. Also, make sure that you have enabled Windows Update® and Windows® Firewalls.

If you need help removing adware and other infections from your computer, give our Personal Technology Experts® a call at 1-800-PC-Support (1-800-727-8776).

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