Adware | What is Adware

Adware are applications that automatically play, display or download advertisements to a computer. These are also known as Advertisement-supported software. The advertisements may be displayed at all times or only when the software is being run. Adware can also download and run Spyware which are built to invade the privacy of the user. Because of this, adware is mostly considered as malicious software.

Most adware is developed to support the developer’s development costs. A certain program may be offered free of charge or for a reduced cost, and the revenue generated by the advertisements shown by the adware could provide compensation for the developer. This type of adware will check which websites the user visits and display advertisements pertaining to the user’s preferences. Some may be used to prompt the user to purchase a license to a particular program. Other adware may claim that it will remove all the advertisements if the user purchases the full version of the application. Adware can sometimes be viewed as annoyances or distractions by the user; hence they would attempt to remove it. Some examples of programs that are considered as adware are:

•    Advanced search engines
•    Weather and news update applications
•    Computer games
•    Peer-to-peer file sharing programs
•    Desktop themes
•    Smiley packages for email and instant messaging
•    Applications that claim to boost the efficiency of a computer

When downloading adware, users are presented with a license agreement that has a statement regarding advertisements that the user must agree to. However, as most users do not properly read license agreements they are annoyed by the number of advertisements displayed by the program.

Some adware is also shareware, which explains the need for the developer to include advertisement support. However, as sharing out shareware is the responsibility of the users, the developer could not be held totally responsible for distributing adware.

As adware could download and install spyware, most antivirus applications consider adware as malicious software as well. However, the user is given the choice of whether to remove adware or not. In most cases, the adware application may contain a useful program that the user might need. There have been a few lawsuits where developers of adware sued antivirus developers for blocking the installation of their programs.  WeatherBug is one such program.

A very common example of a current adware program is from Play Sushi.  In order to play the sushi games for free the user installs a program that shows intext ads on websites.  While the program is easy to remove via the add remove programs many people were unaware they even installed such a product.  However if you read the Play Sushi website it does state clearly that you agree to install the software in order to play the games.

Outside Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adware

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/adware.html

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