What exactly are Spyware, Adware, Malware, and Viruses?

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What exactly are people talking about when they throw out terms such as “Spyware”, “Adware”, “Malware”, and “Virus”? Most of the time requesting information on one of these items will get you the famed response “Umm, it’s something that’s bad and can get into your computer and steal your files.” Well, that doesn’t help much in finding out the source of each of these “malicious” threats. Over the next few newsletters let’s take a closer look at each of these and get a better understanding of how they work.


Let’s start off by looking into Spyware. If you’re a computer user and have internet access, I’m sure you have come across this word more than once, but what exactly is it, what does it do, and why?

Spyware is associated with software that displays advertisements on your PC. It also tracks your personal and sensitive information such as name, address, credit card information, etc… Basically, spying on your internet activity and grabbing your information to send to third party companies. Hence the name “Spyware”.

Spyware can be installed unknowingly through the installation of other software such as file-sharing programs, music sharing programs, online games, etc…

To keep your PC safe, I recommend using an anti-virus program such as the Norton Internet Security Suite that also scans for Spyware. Also, when downloading any type of software, CNET’s Download page ensures software downloads that are free of Spyware.

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