What is Adware?
Adware basically means Advertising Supported Software. It refers to placing adverts in software. In particular, adverts that have nothing to do with the software developers business. Writing some freeware to show the world what an ace programmer you are and landing a job is not Adware. Distributing a program that has adverts for third parties such as a finance company is Adware.
What is Spyware?
Spyware are small programs that run in the background on your PC which are installed to your computer WITHOUT your knowledge. They hide themselves from the user and perform tasks that typically invade your privacy, they do literally spy on you, and can make it difficult for you to find and remove them. These spyware programs come bundled with free downloadable programs from the internet (such as Kazaa, Imesh even Cuteftp). The reason these programs are free to you is because advertising companies pay the developer of the program to put their spyware within it.
What is the difference between the two?
As technology advances and more people come to rely on the Internet for information, leisure, and business it seems as if keeping your computer free of advertising is a daunting task. Not technically fitting into either the virus or spam category we have spyware and adware, which are growing concerns for Internet users. At times these programs may invade your privacy, contain malicious code, and at the very least they can be a nuisance when using a computer connected to the Internet.
Adware is considered a legitmate alternative offered to consumers who do not wish to pay for software. Programs, games or utilities can be designed and distributed as freeware. Sometimes freeware blocks features and functions of the software until you pay to register it. Today we have a growing number of software developers who offer their goods as "sponsored" freeware until you pay to register. Generally most or all features of the freeware are enabled but you will be viewing sponsored advertisements while the software is being used. The advertisements usually run in a small section of the software interface or as a pop-up ad box on your desktop. When you stop running the software, the ads should disappear. This allows consumers to try the software before they buy and you always have the option of disabling the ads by purchasing a registration key.
In many cases, adware is a legitimate revenue source for companies who offer their software free to users. A perfect example of this would be the popular e-mail program, Eudora. You can choose to purchase Eudora or run the software in sponsored mode. In sponsored mode Eudora will display an ad window in the program and up to three sponsored toolbar links. Eudora adware is not malicious; it reportedly doesn't track your habits or provide information about you to a third party. This type of adware is simply serving up random paid ads within the program. When you quit the program the ads will stop running on your system.
Unfortunately, some freeware applications which contain adware do track your surfing habits in order to serve ads related to you. When the adware becomes intrusive like this, then we move it in the spyware category and it then becomes something you should avoid for privacy and security reasons. Due to its invasive nature, spyware has really given adware a bad name as many people do not know the differences between the two, or use the the terms interchangeably.
Spyware is considered a malicious program and is similar to a Trojan Horse in that users unwittingly install the product when they install something else. A common way to become a victim of spyware is to download certain peer-to-peer file swapping products that are available today.
Spyware works like adware but is usually a separate program that is installed unknowingly when you install another freeware type program or application. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers.
Because spyware exists as independent executable programs, they have the capability to monitor your keystrokes, scan files on the hard drive, snoop other applications, such as chat programs or word processors, install other spyware programs, read cookies, change the default home page on the Web browser, while consistently relaying this information back to the spyware author who will either use it for advertising and marketing purposes or sell the information to another party.
Licensing agreements that accompany software downloads sometimes warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with the requested software, but the licensing agreements are not always be read completely by users because the notice of a spyware installation is often couched in obtuse, hard-to-read legal disclaimers.
There has been many softwares developed to remove adware and spyware from your computer and doing a quick search at Downloads.Com will yield much helpful results. Anyhow, the one that have been used by and recommended by us are the following:
Ad-aware : http://www.lavasoft.de
SpyBot Search & Destroyer http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html