I get this question a lot. Here is what I tell people.
What to look for if you think your computer has been infected with adware:
All of a sudden, your computer is running very slow and your web browser (Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox) won’t load or takes a very long time. Once your browser does load the familiar home page has been replaced by a different page and the search bar doesn’t say Google or Bing but some new search company. There are also annoying pop-ups all over your pages.
Yes, your computer has been infected, but where did it come from? Most likely you went to an unfamiliar website and it told you that you need something installed to run the video or some other element of their page. If this happens, be very careful what you click on. They sometimes use icons that look similar to the big names like Adobe. If they want you to install “flash player” it might be their product not Adobe’s. Don’t follow their link, instead close the page and go to www.adobe.com and download the real thing. After you install it, go back to the same website, if it still tells you that you need their “flash player”, find another website to view whatever it is that you want to view.
This is one way these deceptive advertisers gain entry into your computer. The purpose is to force you to use their search engine which gives them higher rankings and they can charge more for advertising. They also open the door to others that want to give you more pop-ups and other unnecessary programs. They also might include programs that keep track of your keystrokes in hopes of stealing your SSI# or banking information.
How to protect yourself:
Pay attention to your homepage (the page that loads every time you open your web browser). If it changes without your knowledge, your system has been compromised.
If you try to go to a specific website and you are redirected somewhere else, your system might be compromised.
If you notice advertising where you didn’t see any before, your system might be compromised.
If you notice any of these things happening to your computer, you need to act quickly to prevent more damage. The programs that have been installed need to be removed, but they hide in other places also. The best thing to do is call me and I will remove all traces of these damaging programs.