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Also known as: Adware.Generic, adware-gen [adw], adware generic

Category: Malware

Type: Adware, potentially unwanted application (PUP)

Platform: Any

Variants: Multiple, usually named adware.gen.[variant] or adware.generic.[variant], for example: Adware.Generic, Generic Adware, Adware.Gen.A, Adware.Gen.B, Adware.Gen.C, Adware.Gen.D, Adware.Gen.E, Adware.Gen.F, Adware.Gen.G, Adware.Gen.H.

Damage potential: Browser interference (including redirects), frequent pop-ups, exposure of personal data, malware infection


Adware.gen is a common label applied by antivirus and anti-malware tools to threats that exhibit adware behavior but cannot be properly identified. The file or program may contain code for displaying advertisements, attempt to install third-party extensions, or discreetly send marketing data to external servers when the infected device is connected to the internet.

Possible symptoms

The most common symptoms of an adware.gen infection are having ads randomly pop up while you’re using the device (even when you’re not browsing) and seeing new tools appear in your browser that you don’t remember installing.

Other symptoms of an adware.gen infection include:

  • Your browser goes through multiple redirects when loading pages.

  • Your device starts to heat up due to background processes.

  • Specific keywords in websites are automatically linked to third-party sites.

  • Banners for the same products appear uniformly across all websites.

Sources of the infection

Adware.gen often comes bundled with freeware applications, although even purchased software may attempt to install adware on your device. Another common source of adware.gen infection is drive-by downloading — using malicious scripts in compromised websites to force devices to automatically download malware as soon as the page loads.

In addition, your device may get infected with adware.gen from:

  • Infected email attachments.

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing of infected files.

  • Infected external devices, such as hard drives or USB sticks.


The most effective measure against adware.gen is simply taking care when you install new programs, especially free ones. Where possible, opt for a custom installation because automatic setup may include adware. If in doubt, read the software’s terms and conditions to see if it includes adware-like behavior.

Other protective measures include:

  • Avoid potentially dangerous websites, like dark web pages or torrent repositories. These websites may attempt to install malware (including adware) on your device as soon as you open them.

  • Do not open unverified attachments in emails or messaging apps, even from trusted contacts. Scanning these attachments with antimalware tools may reveal hidden spyware or adware.

  • Use NordVPN’s Threat Protection to scan programs and files for malware while they’re being downloaded. Threat Protection will also alert you if you’re about to enter a known infected website to prevent drive-by-download attacks.

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