What is Adware?
Adware is software which, when installed, will display advertisements on a computer screen, often at random. Most adware is downloaded and installed without the user recognizing it. Often times, the adware is bundled with software, and its presence is often hidden in the license agreement text, which very few people actually read. Adware is almost never installed willingly.
In some cases, adware will only display advertisements if certain software is running - Generally the software that included the Adware. In most cases, the adware is always running, and can be difficult to disable. Almost all adware software includes uninstall programs, however an unproportional ammount of the uninstall software is either non-functional, or encounters errors (possibly on purpose). Actually finding the uninstall program can be long and occasionally difficult task - Some adware software cannot be removed utilizing standard methods.
Not all adware is bad, however. In some cases, the software is included simply to recoup development costs, and is not intrusive or annoying. Many free programs available utilize non-intrusive adware, such as MSN Messenger, ICQ, and several file sharing programs.
The Controvery Behind Adware
Adware has a rough track-record. This is largely the fault of unscrupulous businesses that develope adware which contains the prominent features of spyware. In the worst scenario, the installed adware is extremely difficult to uninstall, reduces the computers performance, and worst of all - Tracks the computers activities, and then re-sells the information. All of this occurs without the consent of the computer user, who is often frusterated with their computers sluggish performance, frequent crashing, and constant barrage of popups.
Adware has caused computer security experts lots of grief. A computer user's privacy is completely invaded when their computer has adware installed. The advertisement's that popup are often tailored to match the computer users's interests.
Known (And Dispised) Adware Programs
- 180Solutions (Zango)
- Bonzi Buddy (Reguarded as one of the most annoying, aggravating programs)
- Comet Cursor
- Daemon Tools (Includes a toolbar)
- Direct Revenue
- Dollar Revenue
- Windows Live Messenger
As mentioned above, Bonzi Buddy was one of the most irritating Adware programs on the face of the planet. At the cost of sounding unproffesional, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Bonzi Buddy is the most horrendously frusterating, rediculously immature adware program on the planet. As someone who's been infected by it's incessant bastard monkey, I can say that I have nearly punched a hole through a monitor upon recieving its horrible messages. About the only good thing the company behind the Bonzi Buddy bastard monkey did was go belly up in 2004.
Bonzi Buddy is so infamous for it's awful implementation, that it still comes up in discussions pertaining to the internet's history. Everyone hated the monkey, and to this day that little purple bastard still gets on people's nerves - three years after he died!
Protect Your Computer - And Your Privacy
Given adwares track record, it's difficult to know for certain if a program you download includes it. Likewise, it can also be difficult to know if your computer is infected with adware. There are dozens of different programs available that will scan your computer and detect adware and spyware. Even with constant updates to the software, the adware detection programs will not always detect adware, and may not be able to delete certain adware programs. Generally, free adware scanners are not updated as frequently, which will result in slower identification of potential adware programs. Several adware scanning programs are available for purchase, a select few of which are superb and updated frequently.
One excellent, well respected program is Ad-Aware, which is updated frequently, and offers real-time protection in the Pro and Plus editions. The free version will not protect against real-time threats, which requires manual scanning regularly.
- LavaSoft Ad-Aware Plus Edition
Protect your computer against invasive adware programs with LavaSoft's Ad-Aware program. Ad-Aware actively protects your computer against Adware, Spyware, Malware, Trojans, Browser hijacks, Parasites, Aggressive Advertising, and Tracking Components.
- Norton Internet Security 2006
Norton Internet Security 2006 is one of Norton's latest computer-protection programs. Norton has been involved in the anti-virus industry for years, and now they're involved in the anti-spyware business. Norton Internet Security 2006 protects compu
As I end this article, I would like to mention that protecting your computer and your privacy can be a difficult task. As computer users become more savy, adware companies do, as well. Before installing anything that you have downloaded, make sure you read the license agreement carefully. Very few programs are actually worth it if they come bundled with adware.
If you share one computer with others, inform them about adware, and tell them to be vigilant when installing new software - They must read the license agreement before clicking install, or they might just find the computer infected with popups, slow performance, and annoying bastard monkeys.