PC Privacy Threats: Spyware & Adware

Posted on: 30 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Is your computer watching you, rather than the other way round?

Spyware and adware are two types of malware - malicious software - which are often bundled with free software, emoticons, ring tones and games. By clicking on the agreement to install the software, the user also agrees to install the bundled adware, often without realising that they have consented to do so.

Once installed these types of malware can be difficult to remove without a dedicated anti-spyware product or adware remover.

The adware component serves up advertisements, redirects home pages and hijacks vulnerable web browsers, often installing toolbars and other unwanted software on the browser.

One variant of this type of software, 'dialler ware' installs new dialup numbers and changed settings to force the user to connect to the internet via a premium rate number.

The spyware component is designed to monitor user behaviour, check cookies for websites visited, build a picture of the users surfing habits and look for keywords which assist the company in serving up correctly targeted adverts.

There are a number of products, free and commercial, which detect and remove adware and spyware of this type, but some of these products are known to be infected with adware and spyware themselves.

A typical attack will be in the form of a pop-up box that is designed to look like a windows alert box, informing the user that they are infected with spyware and that they need to respond by clicking in the alert box to scan their computer with anti-spyware software.

Once the user clicks on the scan option they are taken to a website where they agree to install the anti-spyware or anti-adware, but often buried within the licence agreement will be permission to install more adware and spyware.

By Dr. K

Hackers Handbook 3.0Dr. K is author of the Hackers Handbook 3.0 which is published by Carlton and costs £9.99.  Alternatively you can purchase it online at Amazon for £6.59.

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