Spyware and Adware programs are the latest tools in the insidious world of information farming and computer hacking.
The terms Adware, Spyware and Malware are typically used in an interchangeable manner by many end-users of PCs, but in truth, the definitions of the programs are different. However they are all bad!
Spyware programs and applications are often downloaded unbeknownst to the end user, and installed in the computer’s hard drive. These applications then (as their name implies) spy on the user, transmitting surfing habits, sites visited, demographic information and more to the company that inserted the program. A tremendous concern about spyware is not only breach of privacy for the end user, but a growing trend in identity theft, credit theft and other forms of illegal usage of the information harvested. Spyware programs are rife among sites that employ shareware downloads, such as Kazaa, Bonzi Buddy, Morpheus and other shareware sites.
Adware applications are generally applications that come bundled in with a software program in order to encourage the consumer to purchase more products, upgrade to a pricier version or to test out other programs.
Common Programs to Avoid:
Common Symptoms of Spyware:
Ad-Aware - Anti-Spyware
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Malware programs are programs designed specifically to destroy or bring harm to a PC and its functionality. Malware includes the typical viruses, Trojans and worms that are typically protected against by anti-virus programs such as Norton Anti-Virus, Trend Micro’s PC-Cillin, or McAfee Anti-Virus.
While most end users typically employ some type of anti-virus shield, an alarming number of PCs are vulnerable to a spyware or adware program. Specialized programs exist which will shield computers from these specific threats. These specialized programs protect the end users in two ways. First, they protect the end user by employing a scanning technology similar to an anti-virus program. They will scan the PC and identify and remove and existing spyware on the PC. The second functionality is real-time protection, which prevents the re-infestation of the cleaned PC from any additional programs by notifying the end user of potential threats and preventing insertion of malicious code into the registry or other programs and downloads.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I highly recommend downloading a spyware protection program before your computer becomes a Adware wasteland!