I t is normal to see pop-up ads while surfing the net, right? What a lot of people don’t realize is that those ads could have made their way onto their computers through spyware.
By the time that you figure out what is behind the ads, the spyware pop-ups may have gotten so bad that your only choice is to completely reconfigure your computer and just hope that the pop-ups don’t come back.
And, if your only mechanism to fight against the spyware is hope, the pop-up ads will return.
WHAT IS SPYWARE EXACTLY?
Spyware is a type of software which gets onto your computer and is generally used to gather your personal information and then send advertisements to you, normally in the form of a pop-up ad.
Spyware software can also change your computer configuration as well as many other potentially harmful things.
Even though the term spyware may suggest that the software is simply monitoring action in a secretive way, the purpose of spyware usually goes well beyond this.
When spyware software is on a computer, it generally is hidden from the user.
In 2005, a study carried out by AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance showed that 61% of user’s computers were infected with spyware.
Of all of these users, 92% of them were not aware that their computers were even infected.
91% of the users claimed that they had not granted permission for the spyware soft-ware to be installed.
Since then, spyware has become increasingly sophisticated and is often impossible to detect on a user’s computer.
Even worse, once detected, some spyware is impossible to remove.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPYWARE and Adware
The terms spyware and adware are often used interchangeably.
Both of these terms are used to describe software which can display advertisements.
However, there is one major difference between these two: spyware gets onto the user’s computer through illicit means.
With adware, the user agrees to have the adware program installed in exchange for something else.
For example, the program Eudora will allow users access to shareware for free but they must agree to receive advertisements.
The key word here is “agree.” Adware will not attempt to mislead users and is offered in exchange for a service.
An example of adware includes the file sharing program Eudora.
Rather than asking users to pay a registration fee, it asks them to agree to receive advertisements.
On the other hand, Gator software is a type of spyware.
When users visit certain websites, spyware is installed on the users’ computer through some sort of deceptive manner.
The company behind Gator as well as the website where the spyware was installed will both receive revenue.
HOW IS SPYWARE DIFFERENT FROM VIRUSES & WORMS?
Today, there are an incalculable number of “health” problems that a computer can be at risk for.
Generally, these risks can be broken down into spyware, viruses and worms.
It is easy to confuse these different types of computer prob-lems because they have many similarities.
Spyware, viruses and worms all get onto a user’s computer with permission or by using deceptive means.
Once on the computer, they cause harm to the computer and impair functions.
Spyware, viruses and worms are all designed to be difficult, if not impossible, to detect.
They often are designed in a certain way that prohibits them from being removed in normal manners.
Recently, there have been many viruses and worms which have been, as spyware is, created for profit.
Compared to viruses and worms, spyware is a relatively new problem.
Viruses have been around since the 1980s and worms almost as long.
Spyware didn’t become a major issue until 2000.
The major difference between spyware and viruses and worms is that spyware doesn’t seek to replicate once on your computer.
It also doesn’t seek to infect other computers.
Both viruses and worms, on the other hand, actively replicate themselves and can spread to other computers through means such as email.