January 25, 2012

3.1.1 Adware


Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer. These advertisements can be in the form of a pop-up. They may also be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process. The object of the Adware is to generate revenue for its author.

Adware, by itself, is harmless; however, some adware may come with integrated spyware such as keyloggers and other privacy-invasive software.

The authors of these applications include additional code that delivers the ads, which can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. The justification for adware is that it helps recover programming development cost and helps to hold down the cost for the user.

Adware is criticized because it can include code that tracks a user's personal information and pass it on to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge.

Adware is considered a nuisance when:
  • It can contain code that tracks a user's network usage patterns and personal information and pass it on to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge.
  • It puts additional load on your computer by consuming part of your CPU, memory and network resources.
  • It can be a distraction by displaying messages on your screen real-estate.
  • It is introduced without the consent of the computer user

There are legitimate uses of adware. At its best adware is a legitimate way for developers to cover the cost of content development. Instead of making the user pay for access, the developer might use adware to create “ad-supported” content and present it free to consumers.

In its more benign form, adware is an ad-support or sponsored software, offsetting the cost of
development, allowing the content to be made freely available to the consumer. In this form it is an inconvenience that is tolerated.

In its less benign form, adware is spyware that uses the resources of the computer (e.g. CPU, memory, network, to surreptitiously gather tracking and personal data and make it available to the adware developers. In this form, it compromises the user’s privacy and security. 

  • http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/definition/adware
  • CompTIA Security+ Study Guide: Exam SY0-301, Fifth Edition by Emmett Dulaney

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