Encompassing slide-ins, pop-ups, and other invasive advertisements that interrupt or redirect an individual’s online activities, adware is a particularly bothersome modern phenomenon. Short for ‘advertising supported software’, the term describes all unwanted software that throws up advertisements on the screen, typically within a web browser.
Many security professionals regard adware as the forerunner of ‘potentially unwanted programs’ or PUPs. Adware typically uses an underhanded method to piggyback on another program, or disguise itself as legitimate to trick its audience into installing it on their PC, tablet or mobile device.
From the developer’s perspective, adware can be a lucrative source of revenue, generating income by producing pop-ups for a variety of dubious products, from get-rich-quick schemes to miracle weight loss programs. This may manifest itself in a change of homepage; new tabs opening; or the user being confronted with a new search engine they have never seen before.
Adware is sometimes utilized by legitimate software applications that use online advertising, bundling ads within a program. Alternatively, it may be downloaded by a user who is unaware of the intent. Whatever the route, the end result is advertisements on the target’s computer that do not come from the websites they are visiting.
Once a digital device is hijacked by adware, it might start performing unwanted tasks. The software may track the websites the target visits, analyzing their location and presenting advertising for products or services that are likely to be pertinent.
Distinct from malware, which compromises cybersecurity, adware is more of a nuisance, utilized by the author to track browsing behavior and sell it to third parties, enabling marketers to tailor advertisements to the target’s viewing habits. Adware affects all browsers, including Firefox and Chrome.
Telltale signs of Adware include:
- Advertisements appearing in places they should not
- Frequently visited webpages not displaying properly
- The web browser slowing to a crawl
- The homepage changing without permission
- Website links redirecting to unexpected sites
- The browser suddenly being populated with new toolbars, plugins or extensions
- The automatic installation of unwanted software applications
- Browser crashes
Adware is spread via shareware and freeware, quietly installing itself without the user’s knowledge or permission.
Adsterra offers a comprehensive solution to this increasingly common problem, penalizing advertisers who repeatedly break the rules by banning them from the Adsterra Network and potentially pursuing financial penalties. With minor violations, Adsterra temporarily bans all of a campaign’s GEOs, protecting publishers from suspicious campaigns until the advertiser comes up with a fix. This approach is only applied to first time offenders, however, with the security platform chalking up one-time, minor infractions to human error.
Adsterra works hard to protect its users from the industry’s bad players, which is why all of the ad network’s customer tools and services are covered by Adsterra malware protection as standard.
The following actions are banned on Adsterra:
- Redirecting Adsterra’s traffic to sites that have not been approved by Adsterra managers
- Sending Adsterra traffic to malicious sites
- Running any offers that are forbidden on the Adsterra Network, such as pay-per-call, parent window opener and tech support.
Keeping ahead of the curve in cybersecurity, Adsterra is committed to building long-term customer satisfaction by promptly detecting and responding to new, increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats. The ad network utilizes an automated scanner called GeoEdge that detects malware in campaigns launched via the Adsterra Self-Service platform, with its Campaign Launching Team subsequently undertaking manual checks on all campaigns.
As part of its manual fraud detection processes Adsterra emulates real user behavior, utilizing different physical gadgets and operating systems, fresh IP addresses and clean proxies, enhancing the effectiveness of fake landing page detection and helping to maximize exposure of fraud attempts.
No security software is 100% effective. Nevertheless, Adsterra strives to reduce the threat to zero. With the platform taking between 30 seconds and 10 minutes to respond to fraudulent campaigns, Adsterra is launching a massive tech system overhaul, improving internal security scripts, enhancing automated performance, and fixing minor bugs.
Adsterra is committed to transparency, sharing details about the software it uses with people working in the Defence Dept. and providing the public with information on how to keep safe online via social media and the Adsterra blog.