What is Spyware/Adware/Malware?

In the last 3 years Spyware has been misunderstood as a virus, when in fact it is a completely different threat, AND it is not protected by any Anti-Virus software.

It used to be you were told to ‘Clean your cookies’ but cookies are simply an advertising dream. As you visit a web site you are ‘tagged’ with a serial number that applies to you and your login if used. Each site uses cookies to see which links you click on, which pages you view, and how long you are there. They are similar to your common grocery store club card and offer you very little in return. Deleting them removes your saved passwords and preferences for those pages.

Each website you visit that advertiser’s pay top dollar to have their company displayed as an ad has the potential to install Spyware on your computer. Spyware is used similar to a cookie but instead of a small single file, it uses a smarter program to track you. These programs run in the background of your computer and often times communicate with the original programmer which give the illusion of ‘slowing’ down your computer. They are not a danger to your computer in moderation; however a high amount of them can slow you down and even make your computer cease to function.

In addition to spyware, there is ad-ware and mal-ware. Ad-ware is spyware that has a cargo that is dumped on your computer to display pop-up’s and advertisements when you are on or offline. They are just as much of a threat as spyware, but the ‘types’ of advertisement displayed is not controlled and could display inappropriate images. Mal-ware is the worst of the three threats. This is when your computer has been compromised by another user and is being used as an ‘extension’ of their work. Spammers or people who need to hide their identity will often use Mal-ware to make other computers appear to be theirs as they perform illegal actions.

Removal and prevention of these threats is crucial to today’s Internet users and their daily tasks. Products like Webroot Spy Sweeper (www.webroot.com) are highly recommended. Free software such as SpyBot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware SE are not supported, and offer ¼ of the total protection that Spy Sweeper does.

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