What are Adware and Spyware?
The term "Adware" refers to any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. Adware is typically found in free software, with the justification is that it helps recover programming and development costs, enabling the software to be free or low cost. Adware has a reputation for often including code that is used to track personal information. All software that secretly tracks your online habits is better known as "Spyware."
Spyware usually gathers information about the computer user's browsing habits and relays it to advertisers and/or other third parties, largely for statistical reasons. Spyware is almost always installed without knowledge of the user. Spyware can be installed secretly while you are installing other software, or it can come from a software virus, or by doing something as little as clicking on a pop-up window. Spyware can be harmful as it is designed to obtain your personal information. It can also be a nuisance causing things like unwanted pop-up ads, changing your home page location, and even redirecting you to websites you haven't requested.
How can I protect myself against Adware and Spyware?
As a general rule, you should be careful about any program you install on your computer. When looking for free software make sure to read as much information about as you can before you install it. In many cases software that includes Adware gives you an option to leave it out of the installation, so it's important that you pay close attention to the steps of an installation. It's also important be aware of pop-up ads and avoid installing things from a web site that doesn't look legitimate. As a rule, only install software you really need and feel comfortable with. A quick search on Google.com is often worth the time beforehand, for example.
These are some good rules to always keep in mind, but it's likely that you won't be fully protected just by being careful. There are several free software programs that we recommend to help fight Adware and Spyware. What these programs do is scan your computer's hard driving searching for these types of programs. They then give you a list of what they find and the option to delete it from your computer. Below we have provided links to some of these programs along with installation instructions.