Do you know what an "ad injector" is? Don't worry if you've never heard of it, because it's a fairly new term. In fact, it's only really been around since the fiasco with Lenovo and Superfish earlier this year.
If you didn't hear about that, you can click here for the full details, but the summary is that Lenovo was pre-installing the Superfish program on some of its computers. The program watched your activity to serve you relevant ads while you were browsing. Unfortunately, it also opened the door for hackers to direct you to malicious sites without setting off any warnings.
Lenovo took care of the Superfish problem, but ad injectors are now on everyone's minds. These are often third-party programs that either put extra ads on pages while you're browsing, or launch popup ads while you're using your computer.
According to Google, 5.5% of its users (that means millions of people) have ad injectors on their computer. And nearly 30% of these injectors were malicious or serve malicious ads.
The injectors themselves come in several forms including browser toolbars and shady extensions. According to Google, there are more than 50,000 browser extensions and 34,000 programs that work as ad injectors.
About 1,000 companies are responsible for creating the injectors, and the ads themselves are supplied by about a dozen companies like Superfish that are known as "injection libraries." The injection libraries are the ones who work with legitimate ad networks, or hacking groups, to get the ads they serve.
As you can see, there's a lot of effort involved in this. Google is trying to keep injectors out of Chrome, but they can still invade other browsers and computers.
That's why it's important to be very aware of what you install on your gear. A lot of injectors sneak on to your computer as third-party software from another program.
Whenever you're installing software, be sure to read every installation screen so you can uncheck any third-party items it wants to install. You can also run a program like Unchecky that does the work for you.
If you do get a toolbar that's serving you ads, you can try uninstalling it using a program, or remove it manually. For ad injector programs you might have installed automatically, remove them completely with a program like Revo Uninstaller or GeekUninstaller.
You should also make sure you're using a standard account in Windows so programs can't install without your permission. Click here to learn more about setting up safe Windows accounts.