Written by AVG Community Hall of Famer Barry Eyt

The world of malware never stands still. Many computer users know how to protect themselves against these threats. But did you know that there is a different threat that it is capable of infecting your computer silently and sneakily?

Adware is one of the most common forms of software that infects people’s computer nowadays, but what is it exactly? Adware, in general, means advertising-supported software and is a way for software creators to make some extra money by showing ads on your computer or within the program. They develop free software, but it still comes at a price!

The “bad” form of adware is known as “Potentially Unwanted Programs” and it hides itself inside program installers (mostly free software). The difference is that it acts like malware and can be very difficult to install. There are many forms of adware, but some of the most popular are: toolbars, search engines and browser plugins.

How do we get infected with these, you ask yourself? Well, that’s easy. When you run an installer for a program, you get asked if you want to change your homepage and install a toolbar and so on. Most people do not pay attention to the fine print and EULAs in program installers and that is most common method of infection.

The effects of adware are quite annoying: drops in internet speeds, unwanted toolbars, browser homepage changes, and search results, not to mention tailor-made ads on webpages – if you click on them, you just download more adware and malware silently!

So what can you do to keep yourself from being infected?

  • Never download software from untrusted site. Always read everything that comes up in each installer and never be click-happy, by just keep on clicking next, next, next without reading properly!
  • Get yourself a good and safe browser, most of the popular ones run regular security updates.
  •  Equip your browser with good plugins:
    • Ad Block Plus (blocks annoying ads and banners from webpages and speeds up your browsing)
    • HTTPS Everywhere (establishes a safe connection)
    • AVG PrivacyFix! (blocks banners , ads and unwanted prying eyes)

If you are already an AVG user, you can improve your chances of blocking adware by turning on the detection of Potentially Unwanted Programs in AVG Internet Security or AVG AntiVirus. You can achieve that by doing the following:

  • Open up AVG’S main interface and click on the options button in the top right corner.
  • Select Advanced Settings from the dropdown menu
  • Under the tab web browsing protection, click on Online Shield expert settings and select Report Potentially Unwanted Programs and Spyware Threats and Report enhanced set of Potentially Unwanted Programs.


By following these simple steps you should be able to keep your machine running free from adware and avoid those pesky pop-ups! If you have any tips for preventing adware that you would like to share, let us know here on the blogs or on our Facebook page.