By Monty Cordello
When we think of adware, what comes to mind are those annoying and pesky ads that pop up out of nowhere whenever we are surfing the net. Anybody who has surfed through the net has encountered those irritating pop-up adwares advertising everything from computer software down to Viagra. Adwares are some of the most derided objects in the web alongside viruses, spyware and other malicious softwares and programs. Although adwares are alleged to be the most benign form of spyware, most web users hate the blatant and bothersome way of advertising. Most are often tricked into clicking on such adwares and end up unintentionally downloading something far more serious.
What are adwares, anyway? Adware or advertising-supported software is defined as any computer program or software package in which advertising and other marketing material are included with or automatically loaded by the software. Adwares are usually played back after installation. Some malicious adwares upload information about the computer or its user's activities even without the consent of its user. Adwares most often take the form of banner ads that appear on pop up windows or anywhere on the computer screen.
Software applications display these advertising banners whenever a program is opened or through some other triggering mechanism. Most adwares are integrated into a free application. This is a way for the developers to recover the costs of creating such software. A prominent example of this is the Opera browser software, which is a free application but comes with a banner ad. The adware can only be removed once the user purchases and registers his copy of the software. It is also a revenue-generating mechanism. A company can sponsor adwares to capture more visitors and potential customers. Adware as a marketing strategy is just one of the many techniques used by websites to attract more traffic.
However, some adwares are more than just pesky and garish ads. In many cases, adwares accompany a more malicious program, which uploads information about the user collected without permission. The users surfing habits are then tracked; in some cases, the browser home page is altered or redirected to the adware company's sponsoring site. These types of adwares are dangerous since they may jeopardize the computer system's health. Aside from installing malicious software, they may also become an avenue for viruses to invade the system.
Adwares have come under fire not only because of their annoying presence in the form of pop ups and banners but also in the way they invade the privacy of the user. Trackware and Spyware are just two of the "evil" forms that adware can take. That is why most computer users make an effort to get rid of these adwares. Because of the annoying nature of pop-up adware, most browsers now employ an adware blocking system through the form of a pop-up blocker or adware blocker. Browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox all use pop-up blockers, which instantly block or close any window that is triggered by adware in the sites that the user visits. These steps have significantly reduced the number of irritating adware that pop up every time a site is opened.
Most antivirus programs and utilities now feature an adware search and removal system. These programs indexes known adwares and spywares in the internet universe and searches for it in the user's computers system then subsequently quarantines or deletes the malicious files. Nevertheless, despite the numerous efforts against adwares, they continue to plague web surfers with their showy ads and banners as well as the nasty programs they introduce into the computer system. As the sage of the annoying adware continues, web surfers are also equipped with the best tools and utilities to combat them.