Here are mini-definitions of these three aggressive types of software.
- Adware displays (typically) pop-up ads while you're online. The software tracks and reports your Internet habits ostensibly to tailor ads to your personal needs based on your Internet browsing.
- Spyware reports information to a third party about your computer system without your knowledge.
- Browser-hijacking software literally hijacks your computer, slows down your Internet connection (because it is using the bandwidth and your computer's processing for its own purposes), redirects you to advertisers or specific web sites, and changes your browser settings, without your permission or knowledge.
Programs like Symantec Anti-virus, Ad-Aware, Spybot, and Spy Sweeper are designed to try to protect your system from these types of threats.