Adware is a type of software that shows paid advertisements to users, either in its own interface, through integration with other software, or in separate windows or GUI elements. Adware can be legitimately installed as a way to generate revenue, or it can be unintentionally or maliciously installed as malware on a computer.

Terms related to Adware: Software, Advertising Software, Malware, Virus, Trojan, Cybersecurity, Vulnerability, Exploit.

Adware is a way to make money from advertising by displaying adverts that users may then choose to click on. Legitimate adware is an established way to pay developers, vendors, and publishers for the effort and resources used to create applications, content, and other media that’s consumed by end users.

Adware sometimes contains features and functions that allow for better targeting of advertising, taking into account a user’s location, demographics, internet history, and goods or services they may be interested in.

Legitimate adware can be bundled with applications and other content, for example a smartphone application or game. The developers and others are paid either by how often the advert is shown to end users or for each time a users taps, clicks, or interacts with the ad (known as “Pay Per Click.”) Adware is often integrated into “Software as a Service” applications or social networks like Gmail, Skype, Facebook, or Twitter.

Unfortunately, adware can also be maliciously installed on a user’s device as malware. This type of adware provides unwanted advertisements to users through their smartphone, computer, or other device. These ads are typically difficult to remove or click away from and can use unethical techniques to force clicks, scare users, or otherwise extort money.

A robust cybersecurity approach will reduce the illegitimate installation of adware and should use similar techniques as for dealing with viruses, worms, trojans, and the like. This typically includes antivirus, firewalls, security policies, network monitoring, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.