You've heard of spyware and malware, but one of the lesser-known culprits of Internet foul play is adware. This is a type of software that automatically installs advertisements into your system so that revenue is generated for its user.
Although not as harmful as spyware and malware, adware is still not something you want on your system. And, the problem is, its creators are just as sneaky. This past summer, Skype was used as bait to trick people into downloading software with adware.
The good news is that Microsoft is finally cracking down on adware programs that can leave your system vulnerable. These programs typically involve a middle-man system, where ads and promotions are injected automatically, and settings on your system are changed without your knowledge. These programs also intercept communications between the Internet and your PC, in order to control and place their ads.
In a recent blog post, Microsoft described the risks of such software by stating the following: "Most modern browsers have controls in them to notify the user when their browsing experience is going to change and confirm that this is what the user intends. However, many of these methods do not produce these warnings and reduce the choice and control of the user. Also, many of these methods also alter advanced settings and controls that the majority of users will not be able to discover, change, or control."
To correct the issue, a new policy was added to Microsoft's adware objective criteria. This policy now states that "programs that create advertisements in browsers must only use the browsers’ supported extensibility model for installation, execution, disabling, and removal."
This means that any ad software that doesn't inform you it wants to download or install something will be blocked and labeled as malware. And that's good news for Web users everywhere.
Of course, it will take a little while before the policy actually goes into effect. To allow developers enough time to comply, Microsoft has said that the new policy will be enforced beginning after March 31, 2016.