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(also advertising-supported software)

Adware definition

Adware is software or an application that hijacks your browser and shows unwanted advertisements on your device. It is used to make money — adware developers earn revenue for each advertisement a user sees.

Adware isn’t considered as dangerous as a virus but can lead to security problems. While adware is typically built for computers, you can also find it on mobile devices.

How you might get adware

  • You may download it with other files. When you download files or software (usually shareware or freeware) online from unofficial sources, they sometimes come with built-in adware. It usually installs itself without you knowing.
  • Visiting unsafe websites. Some websites have embedded adware codes, making it easy to pick up adware without even realizing it as you click around on a website.
  • Vulnerability in your operating system or software. You may also get adware on your device if it has a vulnerability that hackers might exploit.

How adware generates money

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) — each time you open an ad.
  • Pay-per-view (PPV) — each time you see an ad.
  • Pay-per-install (PPI) — every time you install bundled software on your device.

Watch it explained: Adware and how to remove it from your Android

Further reading

Ultimate digital security