9 Adware and spyware
The previous sections of this topic have been concerned with email, but the Internet provides yet more problems, in the form of adware and spyware on the Web. You may have seen pop-up messages on your browser screen offering services or products. What you may not realise is that if you respond to these messages, extra software may be installed alongside other programs without your knowledge.
Adware is 'free' software that is subsidised by displaying adverts
Adware can do a number of things, including finding out about your online surfing and spending habits and passing that information, without your permission, to a client. It is claimed that this helps to channel appropriate advertisements to your desktop, but you may find the windows that pop up as you use your web browser rather annoying.
Adware is sometimes 'bundled' with other software, without the user's knowledge, or included in the fine print of an End User License Agreement. Adware programs can be very difficult to remove from a user's computer.
Spyware covertly gathers user information and activity without the user's knowledge.
It is probably more dangerous than adware because it can record your keystrokes, history, passwords, and other confidential and private information. Spyware has been sold as a spouse monitor, child monitor or surveillance tool – or simply as a tool to spy on users in order to gain unauthorised access.