Adware and Spyware What is the Difference?

Adware

Adware refers to programs that are supported by advertising. In exchange for using

a free program, we are presented with advertisements. Juno's basic Internet service

is a good example of adware - free dial-up access to the Internet, and an advertising bar

that stays on the screen as long as we are connected. With most adware, we can

remove the advertising by paying a fee for the program or service.

A lot of the adware programs collect data about our web surfing habits and send that

information off to a central computer while we are online. They do this in order to present

you with 'targeted' ads that you are more likely to buy from. Reputable companies will

spell out the fact that their ad-supported program is collecting the information, and will

tell you what they are doing with it. This is usually found in the License Agreement that

you agreed to when you first installed the program. (You did read that closely before you

accepted it, didn't you?)

Adware
Programs that secretly gather personal information through the Internet and relay it back to

another computer, generally for advertising purposes. This is often accomplished by tracking

information related to Internet browser usage or habits. Adware can be downloaded from Web

sites (typically in shareware or freeware), email messages, and instant messengers. A user may

unknowingly trigger adware by accepting an End User License Agreement from a software program

linked to the adware.

 

 

Spyware

Spyware programs are similar to adware programs in that they collect the same kind of

information and send it off to a central computer. The main difference is that spyware

programs don't usually let us know that they are being installed when we install their

host program (like iMesh or Gator), or install themselves even if we expressly click on

the button that indicates we do not want to install the program! There are even 'drive-by

downloads' that install the programs while you are surfing the web, simply by going to a

certain page or site. (See Trojans) I once went to the iMesh site to see what it was all

about, and came away with 3 new spyware programs just from the main page!

Even if we ignore the privacy aspects of programs like these, we still have a lot of

potential problems when we have them on our computers. They use up memory which

can slow down our computer, and they can often interfere with other programs because

they have been poorly written. If a couple of spyware programs are trying to record and

send information, chances are you will notice your computer running slower, and your

Internet connection will seem very slow.

Spyware

Stand-alone programs that can secretly monitor system activity. These may detect passwords or

other confidential information and transmit them to another computer. Spyware can be

downloaded from Web sites (typically in shareware or freeware), email messages, and

instant messengers. A user may unknowingly trigger spyware by accepting an End User

License Agreement from a software program linked to the spyware.

 

I have had calls from users who try to start a word processing program, only to have it disappear after the initial logo screen.

 They believe that  there is a problem with the program itself, and try to reinstall it several times (often at the advice of

another tech that they called) in order  to correct the problem. What they fail to look for is spyware running in the

background, eating up their system resources and preventing the legitimate program from being able to start.

By removing the spyware programs, the system has more memory available to do what it is  supposed to,

and everything is fine.