Spyware Lurking in Adware Cookies

You would probably be highly offended if an outside source attempted to sneak a peak at the sensitive data on your computer.  Unfortunately, this type of intrusion is successfully executed on a daily basis, impacting millions of personal computer users and corporations.  Several internet sites, including legitimate companies, will insert files known as adware cookies onto your computer.  These files secretly record the sites you visit on the internet and report the data back to the company, who in turn, uses the information for business purposes.  In most instances, the files are downloaded without your knowledge or consent.  When this occurs, you have been infected with spyware

Is it Really Spyware?

Adware cookies, often termed as tracking cookies, are what gives a company or code writer the ammunition to proposition you with advertisements based on your surfing patterns.  Many companies who employ these files and other types of spyware contest that they are being used for legitimate purposes.  Some have urged anti-virus and anti-spyware developers to omit the detection of these programs in their scanners, claiming that adware cookies are not actually spyware or a significant threat. 

The bad news for you is the fact that this twisted reasoning has had a bit of impact.  One of the most publicized instances involved Microsoft disabling it's tracking cookie detection and removal feature upon purchasing an anti-spyware program from a company named Giant.  The program was then fully converted into a Microsoft security solution.  While the program is still in the testing stage, many users were turned off and grew rather skeptical of other Microsoft anti-spyware products. 

Not your Average Cookie

Though similar in function, an adware cookie is not to be confused with the cookies that store data in your web browser.  These files cause more harm than good and have no direct benefit other than the vague promise offered by an advertisement that appears to suit your interests.  When installed on your computer, adware cookies will flood your screen with advertisements even when you're not on the internet, making normal activity almost impossible. 

Supporters of tracking cookies claim they are not spyware because they are files rather than fully functioning programs.  Protestors argue that these companies do not collect personally identifiable information, but aggregate information for their own cause, which is often unknown.  When placed in this context, an adware cookie portrays an apparent definition of spyware.   

The Smart Choice

Regardless of the ongoing debate, adware cookies have the ability to negatively impact your computer.  The manner in which they are deployed and used is unethical and should be enough to concern any user.  The best defense against this type of file is to remain cautious of the sites you visit on the internet.  An adware cookie can be easily installed whether you click on a link or not.  Additionally, it is recommended that you implement a reliable anti-spyware program or anti-virus software capable of detecting various forms of malware.  This will keep away the adware cookies any other suspicious file a company feel it has the right to secretly install. 

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