Welcome to Your Worst Malware Nightmare

Adware Defined

Lavasoft's Ad-Aware product combats adware

Adware may be narrowly defined as software that is ostensibly designed to obtain and display advertising or promotional information specific to the computer on which it is installed. The reasons for this vary on a case-by-case basis, but the user experience remains much the same. Adware, as a form of malware, behaves in unscrupulous ways by reporting and distributing unique statistical data or other personal information specific to the computer on which it is installed to some third party, typically without the user's knowledge or consent. When adware crosses the line from showing you information you didn't want to see to showing your personal information to sources you didn't authorize, it becomes mildly malicious at best and thoroughly unprincipled by any metric.

Common forms of adware include:

  • Desktop search assistants or download agents
  • Internet shopping or research companions
  • Unsigned ActiveX controls or plug-ins
  • Desktop pay-as-you-surf banner ad applications
  • Application add-on tool bars
  • Real-time weather reporting agents

The Effects Of Adware

Adware is costly mainly in time wasted identifying and resolving the issues it poses, and potentially in the money spent on applications to prevent future recurrences. For a home user with only a few computers this might not cost too much; for an entire organization, recovery and prevention can be more costly. Adware is generally a mild computer irritant.