Web-based adware's crafty games and how to sidestep them

Emma McGowan 15 Aug 2023

Explore the deceptive world of web-based adware, from unexpected prize wins to alluring adult content traps. .

If you've ever been online (and, well, you're here, so obviously you have), you've probably crossed paths with something called web-based adware. Let's take a moment to unpack that. 

Web-based adware can be seen as those uninvited guests at a party—they pop up unexpectedly, can be a bit overbearing, and have a knack for overstaying their welcome. More than just a minor annoyance, they can bog down your browsing speed and, on occasion, might be after your personal info. 

According to the Avast Q2 2023 Threat Report, it's evident that adware has made quite a splash. Here are the top three most common types of adware our researchers found during the first part of 2023:  

The “too good to be true” win 

Picture this: out of nowhere, you're informed that you've won an exclusive prize. It's exciting, right? But there's a small hiccup—you can't remember entering any contest. That’s because you didn’t: It’s a scam. 

This adware technique often involves engaging virtual games or lotteries. They might even flaunt well-known brand names to gain your trust. Once you're hooked, the "winning" moment arrives, and suddenly, they're asking for personal details to redeem your so-called prize. And if a friendly chatbot suddenly emerges from the sidelines, trying to guide or reassure you? Approach with caution.

The adult content trap

Adult content, with its inherent allure, is another tool in the adware arsenal. They bait users with promises of exclusive chats, videos, or other enticing content. But here's the thing: once you're on the hook, the demands begin. They might nudge you towards registration or, even worse, direct you to age-inappropriate content without thorough checks. It's always a good rule of thumb to think twice before diving in. 

The “free” movie bait-and-switch 

We've all been there: settling in for a relaxing movie night, only to be interrupted by unexpected hurdles. Some adware platforms tease you with glimpses of trending films, creating a sense of immersion. But just as you're getting into it, they hit the pause button, urging a registration, a click, or sometimes a survey. And rather than returning to the movie magic, you're often left navigating a maze of more ads. 

We know you just want to navigate the web in peace! But think of the digital realm as a vast ocean—there's beauty, adventure, but also some sneaky currents ready to catch the unaware. But with a bit of knowledge and a sprinkle of caution, you're well-equipped to sail smoothly. Here's to exploring the vast online expanse with confidence and curiosity! 

For more information on this and other trending cyber threats, check out the full Avast Q2 2023 Threat Report.

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