AdWare is any software application in which advertising
banners are displayed while the program is running. The
authors of these applications include additional code
that delivers the ads, which can be viewed through
pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a
computer screen. The justification for AdWare is that it
helps recover programming development costsand helps to
hold down the cost for the user.
AdWare has been criticized for occasionally including
code that tracks a user's personal information and
passes it on to third parties, without the user's
authorization or knowledge. This practice has been
dubbed SpyWare and has prompted an outcry from computer
security and privacy advocates, including the Electronic
Privacy Information Center.
What is Spyware?
SpyWare is part of an overall public concern about
privacy on the Internet. SpyWare is Internet jargon for
Advertising Supported Software (Ad-ware). It is a way
for shareware authors to make money from a product,
other than by selling it to the users. There are several
large media companies that offer them to place banner
ads in their products in exchange for a portion of the
revenue from banner sales. This way, you don't have to
pay for the software and the developers are still
getting paid. If you find the banners annoying, there is
usually an option to remove them, by paying the regular
SpyWare can come in the form of cookies; information
transmission, web bugs, and most are deliberately hidden
so users are unaware of the SpyWare.
What is Theifware?
Thief-Ware is software being used in an unethical or
disagreeable manner. The term does not necessarily mean
that the software is involved in outright thievery or
other serious criminal activity as determined by law.
Some of the software mentioned places links on
victimized sites for visitors to click on, leading them
away to other competitor sites. Many site owners would
say the software is stealing visitors, which makes
ThiefWare an appropriate name for such services and
Spying on Spyware
EarthLink and Webroot Software released a report
Wednesday, revealing that nearly one of every three
computers scanned in April for Trojan horse programs or
system monitor spyware was infected.
Internet access provider EarthLink and security
software maker Webroot scanned nearly 421,000 computers
for their April Spy Audit report. Trojan horses and
system monitors accounted for 133,715 pieces of the
spyware found on those computers--representing almost
one in three machines.
System monitors track users' computer activity,
capturing virtually everything they do online. Trojan
horses appear to be software programs a user has
requested but actually aid hackers in stealing computer
data. That information is then used to gain unrestricted
access to users' computers while they are online.
"Consumers should be aware of the applications
and files residing and running on their machines,"
Matt Cobb, Earthlink's core applications vice president,
said in a statement. "While certain types of
spyware are malicious, other programs can be used to
improve their Internet experience."
Security experts note that the damage from Trojan
horses or system monitors can sometimes be more severe
than adware and adware cookies typically found on PCs.
When adding all four types of spyware found on the
scanned computers during April, the Spy Audit Report
found 11.3 million instances of spyware on the
computers. That averaged 26.9 pieces of spyware per
In March, 237,200 PCs were scanned, with 7.1 million
pieces of spyware found on the computers. That averaged
30 pieces of spyware per PC, according to the report.