Dangerous Adware - What to do if Infected

Written By: Ontrack

Date Published: Apr 22, 2016 12:00:00 AM

Dangerous Adware - What to do if Infected

The term adware originated from the contraction of the terms advertisement (advertising) and software. Adware falls under the heading of malware and is primarily not dangerous, but very inconvenient because the software can change the browser home page, bringing unwanted advertising on the screen or even installing a new toolbar. If you’re annoyed by always new opening windows, you most likely captured one of these programs.

Adware can be extremely unpleasant while surfing or working on the Internet.  More and more browser windows with unwanted (advertising) content load – and depending on the content - can be embarrassing, especially if the fiancé or boss is looking over your shoulder.  And closing the browser window could possibly open even more unpleasant windows.

It can get even more dangerous when the windows pop up browser pages with contaminated code. Malicious programs or Trojans nest on the computer, waiting to remotely access or control the computer – or in the case of ransomware – hold your computer hostage and demand a payment to regain access.

How does a malicious program get on my computer?

Many free software programs include additional “software” that installs a program by default.  For example, in Adobe Flash Player, a McAfee Security Program is installed automatically.  So be aware, it’s not always clear that an unwanted program is present. Sometimes the check box is somewhat hidden, you have to look carefully and read the instructions during installation. The so-called "default installation" is not recommended for such a program, therefore, always choose the "custom installation.”

Adware (or other malware) can expose you if you are visiting suspicious sites with crack or keyword generators (keygen).  If you run such a generator, a download will start in the background and the computer is bugged.

Real spyware can appear as adware on the PC. And this can come right out of the factory. In one case the computer manufacturer Lenovo had delivered new laptops with the adware "SuperFish Visual Discovery" for months. This tool included a vulnerability to launch a man-in-the-middle attack by criminals, who then could engage in the communication between two computers unnoticed.

How can I delete a malicious program?

Anyone who has captured Adware may deal with big problems. Often the uninstall process is anything but trivial and hardly possible for the layman - which is also desired by the propagator of the malicious program. Lucky, if you’ve set your system so that automatic restore points are created.  Such a system image can be easily selected and the computer is restored to a state prior to infection – wherein changed or newly stored data after that date is of course missing. A restore using a contemporary backup is another way – or a rebuild of the entire system, although all data is then deleted.

The damage caused by Adware can be minimized by other measures and other contamination can be prevented – if you respond quickly. First of all you should list all installed programs via the Control Panel of your OS. What does not belong here should be removed (A tip: sort the list by clicking on the tab "installed on date,” if available).

Then take a look at the extensions and plugins your browser used. In Firefox, you click on the menu and then click "add-ons.”  In the list under the menu item "extensions" you can erase any unnecessary additives – or at least deactivate them. Repeat the process under the navigation item "Plugins.”  In Internet Explorer, you find the Add-ons under the gear icon.  In Chrome, you also find the extension under the menu icon.

If you’re still annoyed by strange commercials or toolbars after taking these measures, you should consult the experts at Ontrack. We can help customers in cases of data loss due to adware.


Author:  Kathrin Brekle


KLDiscovery Ontrack, LLC, 9023 Columbine Road Eden Prairie, MN 55347, United States (see all locations)