Adware isn’t inherently an unsafe thing. Describing it unsafe as a whole has been seen time and again to be far too brash of a generalization.
The fact of the matter is that some adware is nothing more than what it seems: a method for delivering ads to a user in a safe, secure and welcomed manner.
The Early Days Of Adware
In the old days, adware was developed to help support software that would be otherwise free for people to use.
The concept itself was simple. Ads were displayed within a software application and then developers would make money when users clicked on them or made purchases after clicking on them.
The problem was that not a lot of people knew what was often going on behind the scenes of the adware.
In many cases the developers who relied on the advertising software weren’t aware of the behind the scenes actions either because they got the ads and the software through third party companies.
The behind the scenes actions consisted of what many considered to be unlawful or at least dishonest spying. The software would track certain things that the user did on their computer, for instance it would track the types of websites they visited.
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That information would then be used to determine the best ads to deliver to that particular user. When it comes to being unsafe though, it depends on how much that aspect of privacy is valued by the individual.
These days, when adware is installed on what can be called honestly distributed software, the terms of what those ads will do are generally displayed in a much more open fashion.
Users are made aware that the application may track certain things about them so as to deliver the most appropriate ads. Some developers choose to use ads that don’t involve any of that kind of tracking at all.
One recurring problem however, is that the ad software is still not always made and controlled by the company or individual developing the main application. That means users don’t necessarily know who they are being asked to trust when it comes to allowing the ads to appear.
Sometimes the results can be privacy invasions and sometimes the results can be malicious adware. The latter is what is really unsafe.
This is the type of adware that is delivered through entirely dishonest means. Or, it’s misrepresented and ends up doing harm to someone’s computer.
In some cases, malicious adware will simply be a nuisance that causes unwanted ads to appear in an uncontrollable manner but other times the ad software also contains spyware and other harmful things.
This is the type of adware that leads many to fear for their computer’s safety, and unfortunately it’s hard to differentiate from the good and the bad.
What to do to keep it safe:
The best thing to do to keep out of harm’s way is to avoid adware from sources you don’t trust, or simply avoid it altogether. As for the forms of adware that arrive via stealth, it’s best to keep your computer’s antivirus software up to date and ensure it includes protection for this type of Malware and spyware.