What are Spyware and Adware?

Spyware, adware and their variations are programs or Apps that get installed on your computer by a download from the Internet. There are basically three scenarios where problems arise:

  • You knowingly download and install something but do not understand all the functions of the program.
  • You download and installed one thing, but other things are bundled along with it that you do not know about or understand.
  • Programs are downloaded and installed without your knowledge.

There are many software downloads available on the Internet that call themselves freeware. Many are Free, and are easy to install, in the end, however, the cost of any software has to be paid for by somebody, somehow. One way to support the cost of the software is through advertising that is downloaded and displayed on the user’s computer along with the software. Many programs are now distributed this way. Often they come as a “Trial” or “Paid” version. As long as the user is told up-front about the ads and about any tracking that might be going on, this form of adware is perfectly legitimate.

Less scrupulous software designers may have pop-up windows showing ads whether you are using their program or not. Even worse offenders install a “browser Hijacker” or “Trojan “and contain a component running in the background to track your viewing habits, keystrokes, on the Internet (and possibly other things off the web). Your preferences are relayed to the person that made the program, so that ads may be targeted specifically to what is perceived to be your interests or “Profile”. Hackers now use methods to entice you into using their “spyware” by providing some useful function; Game Cheats or Hacks contain malware to defeat the security measures of legitimate “Paid” programs into being free to play. Some of these ads contain messages that your system “may” be infected with a virus or otherwise impaired in order to lure you into clicking on something.

Why don’t Anti-virus programs detect most spyware?

Because the programs do not have the characteristics of a virus, thus, they are hidden from detection. A separate application is needed that specifically targets spyware. Signs of infection are slowness, periodic freezing, and loss of internet connection; longer boot times, erratic program behavior.  Unlike ant-virus programs, where installing more than one program is not recommended, it is a good idea to clean your system with two or more spyware removers.

The term Trojan horse is applied to malware that masquerades as a legitimate program but is in reality a malicious application. It may simply pretend to be a useful program or it may actually contain a useful function as cover for a destructive one.

It is essential in the present day conditions to have an antivirus. The Internet is a two-way street. Unless your computer is properly protected, it is all too easy for unwanted visitors to gain access to your computer while you are on-line. Once into your system, a hacker can steal your passwords, gain access to your documents, or destroy programs including you operating system. Good Anti-Virus software can make your computer invisible to all except the most determined cracker. Further, most firewalls will warn you if programs on your computer try to connect to the Internet without telling you. That will help to warn you if you get an infection. Note, however, that some Trojans may hide by piggybacking on essential services like your email client. Hacking has reached the point where everyone, even those with dial-up connections, needs an anti-virus.

If your system is exhibiting any of the symptoms as described above contact us and be sure to bring it in to Hunt Technology for a full diagnostic and cleaning.

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