Is Adware Really a Threat?

When compared to other cyber threats, including worms and viruses, adware typically ranks as a low-level threat. It doesn’t have the same crippling effects on a victim’s computer, nor does it capture or steal sensitive data. With that said, however, adware can pose security risks. If your small business’s computers or devices are infected with adware, you could face several problems, some of which can hinder your business’s productivity.

What Is Adware?

Also known as advertising-supported software, adware is characterized by its ability to display, serve or otherwise project ads on a victim’s computer or device. Some forms of adware create pop-ups, whereas others create pop-unders. Some forms of adware create ads in a web browser via a new “toolbar,” whereas are others create ads on the desktop screen. Regardless, all forms of adware are designed to create ads on a victim’s computer or device.

How Adware Works

The purpose of adware is to generate revenue for the individual or entity whom deployed it. Advertising as a whole is a multi-billion dollar industry. Ads are responsible for connecting businesses with their customers. When a individual or entity deploys adware on a victim’s computer, their goal is to generate revenue.

Individuals and entities who deployed adware are financially compensated in one of several ways:

  • Generate revenue for sales or conversions driven from the ads
  • Generate revenue per 1,000 impressions of ads
  • Generate revenue per ad click

The Dark Side of Adware

Being that adware simply creates ads, many business owners, as well as consumers, assume it’s harmless. After all, how much harm can a few ads really cause?

If an individual or entity deploys adware on your computer or device, you can expect slower speeds when using the infected computer or device. Adware usually creates visual ads, such as banners and videos. In turn, your computer or device must use resources to processes these visual ads, resulting in slower speeds.

The ads created by adware can also be distracting. They’ll disrupt your normal activities by diverting your attention away from productive tasks.

Keep in mind that the threat level posed by adware varies depending on the specific type of adware. Most adware is classified as legal software, so it doesn’t pose a severe threat. Other forms of adware, on the other hand, are more malicious and, therefore, operate illegally. This is why it’s best to err on the side of caution by removing all forms of adware on your small business’s computers and devices.