There are several commonly recognized terms for specific kinds of badware - spyware, malware, and deceptive adware. Badware is malicious software that tracks your moves online and feeds that information back to shady marketing groups so that they can ambush you with targeted ads. If your every move online is checked by a pop-up ad, it's highly likely that you, like 59 million Americans, have spyware or other malicious badware on your computer.
What's particularly tricky about badware is that you may not know that you downloaded it. Some badware manufacturers bundle it with other programs without disclosing that it's part of the package. Others put their programs on your PC when you visit certain websites or play online games.
Unfortunately, incessant pop-up ads aren't the only possible side-effect. Sometimes peoples' computers slow down or even crash. Sometimes peoples' personal information is abused, and there have been reported cases of identity theft. What's even more frustrating is that these programs are hidden in your computer, making it difficult to identify and remove them.
Why do badware providers make the effort? Because it is big business, amounting to a $2 billion-a-year industry. It's the Wild West of aggressive marketing and an industry supported by shadowy online marketers, small application vendors, and website operators.
The best and most important thing is for you to learn how to clean badware off your computer and to share your knowledge with those you know. An important factor when installing any software application is whether you have agreed to its installation and understand what it will do. Certain types of badware not only adversely affect your browsing experience, but how your computer itself functions. Some badware is known to interrupt your internet connection or even cause your computer to crash.
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