Adware And Spyware Explained

spyware

There are many types of malicious software out there designed to infect users in different ways and inflict various kinds of damage on their systems, otherwise referred to as “delivering a payload”. It’s important for a user to distinguish between the many varieties of malware that they might have to deal with, so that they would be more adequately prepared in case they do run into an issue of this type. Adware and spyware are among the most commonly encountered types of malicious software, and they’re a good starting point for those who want to learn more.

 

Adware

Adware is designed to deliver unwanted advertising material straight to the user’s computer. It can work in different ways. For example, some directly display pop-ups on your screen, while others may more subtly hijack your search results and other browsing elements, inserting links into places you would not expect to see them. Keep in mind that once a virus has control of your system, it can do pretty much whatever it wants, including mess with the behavior of other applications. This means that your browser or e-mail client may display links that seem completely legitimate and like a normal part of the application, but are in fact malicious and designed to trick you into a purchase you may not want.

 

Spyware

Spyware, on the other hand, is more concerned with extracting information about the user and their habits. The kind of information that may be collected varies across the board. Some pieces of spyware are more concerned with your online shopping habits, recording what sites you visit and how much you spend at each, information which can be invaluable to major companies when traded on the black market. On the other hand, other kinds of spyware might be far less innocent, attempting to outright steal your bank information, social security number, and other kinds of private details that can then be used to compromise your identity completely. Cases where people have suffered that much from just one infection with spyware are actually not that far and in between, making it something to be particularly wary of.

 

Important Differences And Similarities

The two types of malware seem quite similar in some aspects of their functionality, while they are also very different in other ways. For example, they both often rely on infecting you through compromised websites, and in some cases the owner of the website might not even have anything to do with it. The attack could be carried out through a malicious ad delivered on the same site, for example. Keeping your browser up to date is a good starting point in protecting yourself against this type of malware, and it’s also a good idea to disable things like JavaScript on unknown pages, third-party plugins, and other potentially compromising points.

The two are, however, very different in how they behave once they’re on your system. Spyware is usually much more stealthy, attempting to conceal its presence, while adware, by definition of the way it works, is impossible to hide from the user, so its developers rarely make an attempt to do so. However, they could definitely put a lot of work into making the application difficult to detect and remove, which can waste hours of your time trying to get it off your system. In those cases, it’s often not a bad idea to follow the good old rule of thumb that once a Windows installation has become compromised, you can probably forget about it completely and should just reinstall the whole thing in order to be absolutely safe. And when your private information is on the table, that’s often a good system to follow.

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