Understanding The Difference Between Adware and Spyware

Understanding The Difference Between Adware and Spyware

Over the years there have been tremendous advances in technology. There is a lot to learn as technology continues to advance and security risks continue to evolve. Over the years there have been tremendous advances in technology. People now use the internet for countless tasks including business items, shopping, and interacting with friends. Unfortunately, adware and spyware have taken over and are becoming true concerns for internet users. These programs can at the very least be a nuisance, can invade your privacy and potentially contain malicious code.
Adware is considered an alternative offered to consumers who do not wish to pay for software. As programs and games are often designed and distributed as freeware, this can sometimes block features and functions of the software until you pay to register it. The good news is most times adware is a legitimate revenue source for companies who offer their software free to users.
The bad news is some freeware applications contain adware to track your surfing habits to serve ads related to you. If it becomes intrusive, it is moved into the spyware category. This is when it should be avoided for privacy and security reasons. Spyware has unfortunately given adware a bad name as most people do not understand the difference between the two.
Spyware is a malicious program similar to a Trojan Horse as users install the product when installing something else. It works like adware but is typically a separate program that is installed unknowingly when you install another freeware program or application. It can gather information about email addresses and even your passwords and credit card numbers.
The scary part is spyware exists as independent executable programs. What this means is it has the ability to monitor your keystrokes, scan files on the hard drive, change the default home page on the web browser, read cookies, and even install other spyware programs.
There are various signs that can help you identify if you have become a victim. If you notice any changes to your web browser you did not make like extra toolbars or different homepage settings, you could have spyware running. Other signs include pop-up ads that are not related to a web site you are viewing. Advertisements when you are not browsing the web are also a sign.
So how can you protect yourself from these damaging programs? There are countless anti-spyware software packages available that work by identifying any spyware installed and removing it. Spyware is installed just like any other application, so it will leave traces of itself in the system registry. The software will look for evidence of these files and delete them.
There is a lot to learn as technology continues to advance and security risks continue to evolve. Make note of the differences between adware and spyware, the signs of spyware, and how you can protect yourself to stay safe and out of harm’s way online.