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Is Adware Dangerous for My Computer?

April 9th, 2009

Adware is a type of spyware renowned for being more annoying than malicious. In its purest form it functions merely to provide targeted advertisements to the Internet surfer. Easily recognisable by both the pop-up advertisements and banners displayed on the Internet page, adware doesn’t seem the most dangerous software to download.

A common method of recouping production costs for software developers is to install adware into their program. They can then gain money through advertising without having to charge for the main purpose of their ‘free’ download. This type of adware is distracting but isn’t designed to do any lasting damage; at its worst it will merely annoy the computer user.

One method of preventing the installation of this software is to read carefully the terms and agreements of the software. Most adware designers are legitimate enough to explain somewhere in the installation procedure that their software comes with additional features. Indeed, some are willing to include an option that allows their software to be installed without the adware.

The more invasive adware that can be seen today demonstrates the difference between annoying and dangerous software. These adware programs are installed on the unwary user’s computer and serve to track which Internet sites are visited and how much time is spent on them. Whilst in itself this sort of program is harmless as the only damage done is invasion of privacy, at worst it is bothersome and potentially humiliating to the computer user. However, this is only the beginning of the problems that adware can cause.

Malicious adware can record not just the Internet sites the computer user visited but also the information entered upon them. This gives the software’s creator the ability to steal credit card numbers, email addresses, passwords, home addresses, and other confidential information. The more legitimate adware developers may explain in their terms and agreements to what ends the information gathered will be used. Those with less savoury intentions, however, will attempt to deceive the unwary user into downloading far more dangerous adware. This type of software is normally linked with spyware, generally regarded as a more dangerous download than ‘standard’ adware.

A further problem with adware is that it can severely reduce a computer’s running speed and memory. This forces a naïve user to pay either for an upgrade or to acquire a new computer, when all that was needed was a recognised adware extermination program. Other potential problems include reduced Internet speed and the stability of the computer being compromised, due to the below average level of the adware programming.

Adware can even reproduce, as it can alter Internet settings to sites whereby more adware can be downloaded, even without the user’s consent. This is another major danger, as less threatening software can lead to a more problematic download in the future. Although it is one of the less malicious examples of dangerous software around the Internet, adware should still be treated with caution and cleansed wherever possible.


About the Author

Phil Copple (username Cophilie) is a freelance writer who has a current total of 11 articles for sale at Constant Content. So far he has managed to sell four usage and two full rights licenses.

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One Response to “Is Adware Dangerous for My Computer?”

  1. comment number 1 by: BillyBobjoe

    Thank you for this information on adware I was recently wondering bout’

    my program “cursormania” wondring if it was safe or not.

    any way I searched it up on my anti-virus program and it said “cursor mania contains adware that may have malicious components and software

    we advise you to delete this program (and all of it’s componetnts)

    and scan the computer.

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