Adware Programs And How They Work

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Adware or advertising-supported software is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertising material to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used. Some types of adware are also spyware and can be classified as privacy-invasive software.

Adware is software with advertising functions integrated into or bundled with a program. It is usually seen by the programmer as a way to recover programming development costs, and in some cases it may allow the program to be provided to the user free of charge or at a reduced price. The advertising income may allow or motivate the programmer to continue to write, maintain and upgrade the software product.

Some adware is also shareware, and so the word may be used as term of distinction to differentiate between types of shareware software. What differentiates adware from other shareware is that it is primarily advertising-supported. Users may also be given the option to pay for a “registered” or “licensed” copy to do away with the advertisements.

Adware has been criticized because it usually includes code that tracks a user’s personal information and passes it on to third parties, without the user’s authorization or knowledge. This practice has been dubbed spyware and has prompted an outcry from computer security and privacy advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information


A number of software applications, including Ad-Aware and OptOut (by Gibson’s company), are available as freeware to help computer users search for and remove suspected spyware programs

Prevention & Detection

Programs have been developed in order to detect, quarantine, and remove spyware. As there are many examples of adware software that are also spyware or malware, many of these detection programs have been developed to detect, quarantine, and remove adware as well. Among the more prominent of these applications are Ad-Aware and Spybot – Search & Destroy. These programs are designed specifically for spyware detection and will not detect viruses, although some commercial antivirus software can also detect adware and spyware, or offer a separate spyware detection package.

Well-known Adware programs/programs distributed with Adware

  • Sweet IM
  • 123 Messenger
  • 180 Solutions
  • 180SearchAssistant
  • Zango
  • 888bar
  • Bonzi Buddy
  • BlockChecker
  • ClipGenie
  • Comet Cursor
  • Crazy Girls
  • Cursor Mania
  • Cydoor
  • Daemon Tools – (Software comes bundled with the “Daemon Tools WhenUSave Toolbar” but can be unchecked during installation)
  • Direct Revenue
  • Dollar Revenue
  • Ebates MoneyMaker
  • ErrorSafee
  • Gator
  • Hotbar
  • IEPlugin
  • Kazaa
  • Mirar Toolbar
  • Messenger Plus! Live (Option to install sponsor. Not required.)
  • Oemji Toolbar
  • PornDigger!
  • Smiley Central
  • TagASaurus
  • TopMoxie
  • Videothang
  • VirusProtectPro
  • WeatherBug
  • WhenU
  • WinFixer
  • Winzix
  • XXX Shop online
  • XXX Toy
  • Zango Toolbar
  • Zwinky

The Eudora e-mail client is a popular example of an adware “mode” in a program. After a trial period during which all program features are available, the user is offered a choice: a free (but feature-limited), an ad-supported mode with all the features enabled, or a paid mode that enables all features and turns off the ads. If the user chooses the ad-supported mode, Eudora becomes adware, although according to Qualcomm the program does not collect any information about user activity.

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