Adware and Spyware – CompTIA Security+ SY0-401: 3.1

Adware and spyware is notorious for causing performance problems and application incompatibilities. In this video, you’ll learn about adware, spyware, and some techniques for identifying an adware or spyware infection.

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When your computer gets infected with adware, you almost recognize it immediately. Suddenly you’ve got tons of popups on your screen. You may be sitting there just reading a web page and three popups suddenly appear. Your eyeballs are now seeing tons of ads being thrown at it, and that’s because there’s usually something that’s hooked into your browser or another piece of malware running on your computer, that’s simply popping up ads and feeding those ads to you. Your computer’s turned now into one big advertisement for many, many different things.

This can also, of course, cause performance issues for you. Having this information come across the network, this malware’s probably communicating back to the mother-ship the things that you may have clicked on, the things you may have seen. There could be performance issues associated with your computer and how it’s performing, once this malware is on your computer presenting these ads, so you may see things slow down just a little bit.

This may be something that was installed accidentally. It could be something that you clicked on, and not realizing it, that that was malware. It may be presented to you as somewhat of a Trojan horse, or it may be something that’s installed along with other pieces of software. It may be that the software manufacturer had no idea that these bad guys had stuck some adware along with it, and presented that to you. It was In the installation package. Or they may have included it, not realizing that it was adware.

In any case now, you’ve got adware on your computer, and now you have tons of popups and ads that you’re viewing whatever you do. You need to be careful though when you’re trying to remove the adware. There are many third party utilities that claim to remove adware that are nothing more than additional adware installation programs. So make sure that, if you’re learning about that there’s adware on your computer or you feel that there is adware on your computer, make sure you’re using a known antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware program to remove that.

Either the McAfee, the Symantec, the Trend, the ESETs. The well-known antivirus manufacturers will be able to give you software that you can trust to be able to remove those things, rather than trusting some third party popup that may have appeared that says you have adware, and now you would like to remove it, click here. That’s definitely not the way to go about doing things.

As the name implies, spyware is software that is specifically designed to watch what you’re doing. It’s spying on your browsing. It’s spying on what you’re typing in at the keyboard. It’s trying to identify a lot of different things about you, and that’s because the software these days can present advertising that’s tailored to you. It can provide private information back to someone else that can then use that for identity fraud.

These days there’s really, really big money in getting your identity, and getting your private information, so that people can open up other lines of credit, credit cards, open up bank accounts with your personal information, or even worse, go into your existing credit cards, and your existing bank accounts, to gather the money directly from you.

Usually these trick you into installing. It thinks that there’s fake security software. You may see this advertised all the time, about installing this anti-spyware onto your computer, that really is spyware. Peer to peer networks tend to be a very, very large area where people will embed spyware, present an executable file. Or say that there’s a brand new piece of music that’s available that you download, and unfortunately, now you have spyware on your computer.

Browser monitoring is a big part of spyware. Identifying your surfing habits, finding out where you’re visiting, especially if you happen to be visiting a bank site, a health care site, somewhere where your personal information might be available. There’s juicy tidbits and details they can find out about you. They’re going to track where you go and find out how you log into those.

One problem with these pieces of spyware is very often they include key loggers, so they’re tracking everything you type in. You can then have a big file of all the things you typed in for the day, and that file simply set off to the mother-ship. Behind the scenes, you never even though the file was transferred out, and that’s now somewhere else on the internet that contains login names, passwords, and anything else you may have typed in that day.

There is a lot of adware, and a lot of spyware out there, and there’s three big reasons why you see so much of it out there. The first reason is money. Your eyeballs are very valuable. You’re buying habits are very valuable. If we can get advertisements in front of you, and I can present someone else’s ads, I’ll have a third party paying me to present those ads. So if I infect a million machines, and I’m presenting a million advertisements to people, that’s big money for me. And if I can do that by embedding adware onto your computer, it may not be something that is legal, but it is something where third parties are making money off of your eyeballs.

Another reason is money. Your computer, the bandwidth to your computer, the time on your computer is very valuable, and if we can embed spyware or adware or other pieces that will run onto your system, that becomes very, very lucrative for somebody. And your computer time and your bandwidth is something that, if you distribute across a million computers, it’s much easier to compile a bunch of strangers computers to do the things we want rather than using a million machines that I might buy and stick in a data center somewhere, very, very valuable.

And the third reason is money. The information that is on your computer is important, but your money is very, very important. And if I’m tracking your logins to your bank account, I’m tracking logins to your credit card information, I can access those accounts directly and start transferring money in and out. I’ve now got a lot of control over your personal dollars.

Even worse, is when this spyware and this malware gets onto your computer, tracks your keystrokes, if you’re at a business. And as a business, you’re in the finance department and you have direct access to your bank account, you might have thousands of dollars, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars available in your bank account, and now sending that username and password information back out to some third party gives them access to large sums of money. And this is a very, very big problem with spyware being embedded on our computers today.

It’s very important, therefore, to keep your operating system up to date, to keep your applications up to date, keep your anti-spyware and anti-malware signatures up to date. And generally, if you can keep all of those things up to date and follow very good procedures for not clicking on things inside of your emails and not clicking on unknown links in a web browser, you can generally stay very, very safe and avoid having the adware and spyware installed onto your computer.