What does Spyware and Adware come from?
Spyware and Adware are two nasty types of software that almost no one wants on their computer. They often come bundled with "free" applications that you may see for download around the web. Popular examples include many peer-to-peer (p2p) applications, divx video codec, and some weather or time updating applications. You may have seen some of these try to install as a drive by download - you surf a web site and may hit some pop-ups and then suddenly a window appears asking you to download and install something without you having specifically asked for it.
What is Spyware and Adware?
Spyware is usually software that gathers personal information about you and can also track things like web sites you like to visit, time you spend online, etc. The information is then sold for a profit. Adware is software that is used to target you with advertisements. If your computer seems to create pop-ups randomly or at web sites that generally don't use pop-ups like yahoo, microsoft, etc. - you may have Adware installed on your machine.
Tips for avoiding Spyware and Adware...
The best way to keep Adware and Spyware off your computer is to maintain the security of your system and only run trusted files. Stay away from "free" Internet downloads and "free" versions of p2p applications unless you read their agreement and know what you are doing. If you use an application that has bundled software with it, consider paying some money to the author to get a 'pro' version that has no bundled software included.
What to do when you have Spyware or Adware...If your computer is running slow or you are getting a lot of pop-ups, you should check for the installation of Spyware and Adware. Traditionally anti-virus vendors made software that only checked for viruses, but this is starting to change. Many vendors are now starting to look for "expanded threats" - meaning spyware, adware, and other malware that may not be a virus/trojan/worm. Currently the best way to detect spyware and adware is to use specialty applications designed specifically for removing sypware and adware. We recommend two, Spybot - Search & Destroy and Ad-aware. Another program that can protect against ActiveX based software is SpywareBlaster. You can also find additional guidelines on removing this type of software posted at the Zeropaid Forum.
There are many free downloadable programs that help to protect your privacy by detecting PC monitoring tools, keyloggers and also adware mechanisms that may track user activities.