What Is Adware?
Adware is somewhat of a loose term. It seems to relate to so many things, when it comes to the internet and privacy invasive software. Basically, anything that ends up displaying ads on your pc screen that you never asked for can be construed as adware but most adware in itself is no big deal. It is only when it veers off into the classifications of malware and spyware that the lines start to blur.
If your wondering how adware can be classed as no big deal, here are a few house hold applications that make good use of unconsented advertising, primarily to cover running and development costs. Spotify, Windows live messenger, Yahoo messenger, Ask toolbar. Ring any bells? Most of us are guilty of using at least one of them and they certainly serve up ads.
Don’t worry too much about adware but lets take a further look at spyware and malware, two close relatives to adware, that are not quite to easy going.
What is Spyware
Although spyware technically falls into the category of adware (advertising supported software) it differs because of key factors. Spyware can be used correctly, as pc surveillance software for example: by parents, to see what there computers are being used for by their children. This is a positive side of spyware.
However, Spyware can be used by companies to spy on you without you realising. A lot of it can come from downloading and installing freeware programs or software downloaded from shareware and p2p sites. This sort of unwittingly installed software is known as trojan horses. In itself, spyware from more reputable companies, does not infect or harm your computer but is used for marketing, to better see your surfing habits and thus present you with highly targeted ads.
On a darker side however, spyware can also be used to track and record person information such as bank details. Redirect web browser activity to designated ad sites, change computer settings and preferences, change homepages, slow down internet and pc performance, cause multiple unsolicited pop-up advertisements and so much more.
What Is Malware
Malware is an umbrella term for all other forms of software of questionable nature; it is short for malicious software. Designed to damage or infiltrate the owner’s computer without their consent. Spyware, computer viruses, adware, plus too many others to mention here.
Malware or (malicious software or code) started out as little more than a form of harmless viral program (originally called the internet worm). It was originally created to test the size of the internet but since then has become the side of the internet, most people associate with identity theft.
Most large and accountable companies will use some sort of tracking software to learn more about their potential customers, used in the form of tracking cookies, easily deleted and harmless text files. These are the 21st centuries answer to high street market research. However, there are questionable companies and individuals who use the self same software to very sinister means and ends.
Adware represents the least concern when it comes to privacy intrusion, identity theft and cyber crime in general. It is little more than a pest at times, offering up ads that merely get in the way. Spyware and Malware however, are the grey areas that tend to be far more potentially damaging to the individual.