What is ad-ware and how can you detect and remove adware?

Basically, adware (Advertising Supported software) are applications that are sponsored for their free use and includes advertising banners, which are displayed while the program is running. 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.

Adware will PopUp web browser ads very frequently, change banners on websites, change your Google and Yahoo search results with advertisements instead of your true results and place Windows icon advertisements on your Windows desktop, Windows Start Menu, and in your web browser Favorites and Bookmarks. If you find the banners annoying, there is usually an option to remove them, by paying the regular licensing fee.

The justification for adware is that it helps recover programming development cost and helps to hold down the cost for the user. To some computer users, the tradeoff seems fair. Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL’s Instant Messenger are among other software programs and services that display ads to their users in exchange for free usage. Many of these programs turn off advertising-free versions for a price.

More infamous among ad ware watchers is Gator, which now goes by the name Claria Corp. Gator was controversial from the start. It began in 1998 offering e-wallet software. But it reports your Web surfing habits back to its parent company, which then sends you advertisements targeted according to your data. The vast majority of people consider it a pest, especially because the software is often bundled with other, more useful software.

Adware can usually be thought of as spyware as well because it usually includes code that tracks a user’s personal information and passes it on to third parties, without the user’s authorization or knowledge.

At times users have no idea that they have installed something that may spy over secret information. In some cases Ad ware has been bundled (i.e. peer-to-peer file swapping products) with other software without the user’s knowledge or slipped in the fine print of a EULA (End User License Agreement). A “EULA” is the agreement users accept by clicking “OK” or “Continue” button during software installation. The lapse, which generally users commit, is that they do not bother to carefully read the “EULA”. The actual spyware notice is often written in such a round about, flowery/candid manner that the reasonable user finds no reason to take special interest in it and ultimately falls prey to spying. It is imperative to actually read this agreement before you install any software.

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