What is Adware and Spyware?

Ad supported software, often called Adware or Advertising Supported Software, is used when referencing any type of program that downloads or displays unwanted banner advertisements in the software being used. Adware is often bundled within software a computer owner purchases. The authors of a program sometimes include adware in their software to recover development costs, or to be able to provide the product for free or at a discounted price. Adware can be designed to collect data on which sites the user visits, send this data back to the company and deliver advertising based on the information. Though the advertisements produced by adware may be seen as an annoyance, a distraction, or an invasion of privacy to the user, the income the developer receives may help them to maintain, upgrade and continue to develop more products. Often, after using a free software product that includes adware, a user may opt to purchase a registered or licensed version without adware to remove the ads. This adware-free product may also have additional functionality.

However, adware can also contain or be classified as spyware, a type of malware that is considered by many to be privacy-invasive. Spyware can steal a user’s information or corrupt the user’s system files. Though adware companies may have a Privacy Policy stating that no sensitive or identifying information will be collected, there is usually no way for the user to be completely sure that he or she remains anonymous. Therefore, because of privacy concerns and the prospect of malicious adware, antivirus software today detects and removes both adware and spyware.

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