What is AdWare?
AdWare is software that embeds itself into your browser and/or system through other software/programs that you download. For example: you want to download a screenshot program from Softonic and don't see a tick box that said you wanted "FunTimeSaveMeMoney" installed too. That then installs itself wherever it can under program pseudonyms and also can hide itself in the actual shortcut of your browser.
Is it Dangerous?
It can be harmful in a way that it will place strain on your computer's resources or your internet connection. It can also act as a gateway for other more harmful things like SpyWare and more maleficent MalWare. This is, however, not common.
How Can I Get Rid Of It?
Here are a couple of places one can find the source of the AdWare and how to remove them from those places.
1. Programs and Features
Once these programs install themselves they will most often show up in your Programs and Features list. Find it by pressing your Start Button
and clicking Control Panel. Then clicking "Uninstall a program" under Programs. For Windows 8/8.1/10 users hold the Start Button and press S. Then type control panel into the search bar and click Control Panel. Then click "Uninstall a program" under Programs.
This takes you to a screen where you can see all installed programs on your computer. Proceed to uninstall anything that look suspicious or that you are not sure about but be careful to not uninstall things that are safe and needed for your computer. A good way to identify the unwelcome guests is to look under the heading "Software Publisher". If it says exactly "Software Publisher" or just random scribbles or illegible/poorly spelled names it is most likely not welcome.
BEWARE - Whilst uninstalling the AdWare it will try and embed itself further by hiding more tick boxes or hidden agreements during uninstallation. Check and read everything before you click anything. Some very clever ones leave a mark even though you have uninstalled all the programs and run in the background. Those will have to be found manually through a terribly tedious search process.
2. Your Browser Shortcut
The AdWare often hides itself in the Icon/Shortcut that you click when starting your internet browser. What it does is add a launch command that starts the AdWare as soon as you start your browser. To get rid of this is quite simple. Right-click on your browser shortcut and click properties.
Under the Shortcut tab you will see a field called Target. Please ensure your that field has nothing but this written in it: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" (Quotation marks included.) The AdWare would only insert site name and launch options AFTER that. So make sure there is nothing else after the previously stated text.
It should look like this:
3. Browser Extensions
There are multiple browser extensions that could be the gateway for your AdWare. Since the VLE should be viewed through only Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox I will be providing a tutorial for those two.
In your address bar type "chrome://extensions/" without quotations. This will bring you to your extensions page. Proceed to remove/delete any and all extensions you don't recognise or need by clicking the little Bin icon on the right of the screen. It is normally safer to remove all extensions besides the Google ones and just start fresh if there are a few you need or use.
In your address bar type "about:addons" without quotations. Proceed to check under both Extensions and Plugins and delete/disable any add-ons that you are not familiar with or don't need. It is normally safest to delete all of them except Firefox add-ons and then to download new versions of the ones you want and need.
4. New Tab and Home Page Settings
The AdWare can put it's advertising addresses and link inside your Home Pages and New Tab pages. Below I will explain how to remove this from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Type "chrome://settings/" into your address bar. Under Search click "Manage search engines..." and make sure to delete all (even under "other search engines") except Google by pressing the X on the right hand side of each address. Return to the settings page.
Under the heading "On startup" make sure it is set to "Open the New Tab page" or "Open a specific page or set of pages". Regardless of your chosen option previously, click on SET PAGES next to "Open a specific page" and make sure the only pages set there are the pages you want. It may be safe just to delete them all and put them in manually again. Return to the settings menu.
Go to Appearance. Tick the box labelled "Show Home Button" and proceed to click CHANGE next to "New Tab page" and ensure that there is nothing you don't want in there.
After that your browser should be clear.
Type "about:preferences" into your address bar without quotations. Under General please ensure that your home page is set to something safe like www.google.co.za or the like. It may even be safer to just click Restore to Default.
Proceed to the Search Tab. Make sure to pick Google under Default Search engine and delete all other search engines by unticking them.
Proceed to the Applications Tab. Under Applications please ensure that there is no Application you do not recognise. Specifically video codecs or the like.
After that your browser should be clear.
Still having issues?
Unfortunately this means either that you have missed something in the previous steps and you should check again or the AdWare has embedded itself further and would need to be removed at a base level. This is only suggested to be performed by very technically experienced personnel. At this point it would be better to Google how to remove AdWare from your registry and other places.
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