Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. The authors of these applications include additional code that delivers the ads, which can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. The justification for Adware is that it helps recover programming development cost and helps to hold down the cost for the user.
Adware has been criticized for occasionally including code that tracks a user's personal information and passes it on to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge. This practice has been dubbed spyware and has prompted an outcry from computer security and privacy advocates.
How do you get Adware/Spyware on your computer?
Adware and spyware can be loaded onto your computer any number of ways without your knowledge. Free programs like weather programs, games, or file sharing programs that you download and install frequently contain spyware. Spyware can also be installed using Internet Explorer's ActiveX. Active X is Microsoft's equivalent to Sun's Java program and is sometimes required to view certain pages on the web. It allows web sites to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent.
What does Adware/Spyware do?
Tracks personal information such as web browsing history
Generates pop-up ads associated with sites you frequent.
Generates spam e-mail associated with sites you frequent.
Slows down your computer or causes your computer to freeze.