404 error page: A 404 error page is what appears in a web browser when a user attempts to access a website that does not exist. Unlike DNS error pages, these pages are generated by websites themselves, not by the user’s browser. As a result, they are much more difficult for programs to alter.
Add/Remove programs: a function on the user’s “Control Panel” on the user’s computer. Ths function allows the user to unistall or install progams on his/her computer.
Adware: Adware is software that displays advertising, such as pop-ups or pop-unders. There are many instances of legitimate software that uses ads to support its development. However, adware can become badware when its behavior is not disclosed to users prior to installation, when it does not clearly identify itself as the source of ads, or when it acts as spyware by collecting personal information about a user without his/her consent.
Anti-spyware: Anti-spyware applications are designed to remove spyware from a computer. Some badware, however, pretends to be anti-spyware in order to trick users into installing it. It is important to ensure that an application is legitimate anti-spyware before downloading it. For more information, please see our recommendations page.
Anti-virus software: Anti-virus programs detect, repair, or remove virus-infected files from a computer. Like anti-spyware, it is important to make sure that these programs are legitimate before installing them. See our recommendations page for more information.
Application: Applications are programs that enable computers to perform a specific task. Applications can take a near-infinite number of forms, from web browsers, to games, to word processing programs, etc. Users can download applications off of the web and install them on their computer, or they may purchase an application on a CD. Applications provide some kind of service to the user – such as a web browser, a computer game, or an instant messenger service. “Application” can be used interchangeably with the terms “software” and “program.”
Automatic Updating: Applications often include components that automatically update the application to a newer version or add additional functionality. When a program automatically updates, it connects to the internet to download new changes and then installs them. An application should clearly indicate that it performs this behavior during installation. If the change is substantive, then the program should clearly indicate this to the user during the actual update. An update should never affect the functioning of other applications or significantly alter the original functionality of the application (such as the introduction of badware behaviors).
Badware: Badware is software that undermines users’ ability to make informed choices about what happens to their computers. Badware is software that engages in bad behavior (such as secretly installing itself or infecting a user’s machine with viruses) or that secretly engages in behavior that the typical user would want to be aware of. For example, most users would want to know if the software they’re about to download is going to display a bunch of pop-up ads on their computer – if the software doesn’t disclose this behavior to the user during installation, then that software is considered badware. In addition, any software that doesn’t uninstall cleanly is automatically badware.
Bloatware: describes the tendency of newer computer programs to use larger amounts of system resources (mass storage space, processing power and/or RAM) than older programs. It is also used in a more general context to describe programs which appear to be using more system resources than necessary, or implementing extraneous features.
Bundled Software: Downloading a program from the web sometimes means getting more than you bargained for. Bundled applications may be included in addition to the program that is advertised. That means users can end up with multiple programs on their computers when they thought they were only getting one. For example, a user may choose to download a game or screensaver, only to discover that additional software, such as adware or other badware, has also been installed. Under StopBadware.org’s guidelines, programs must disclose all applications that they are going to install, and users must have the opportunity to accept or reject the installation. Moreover, when a program is bundled with badware, our guidelines find the entire bundle to be bad.
Cookies: Cookies are small bits of information that websites store on a user’s computer in order to identify the user during future visits. Cookies are much less intrusive than spyware, as they can only record visits to a single website or its affiliated sites; spyware, on the other hand, may monitor all sites a user visits. In addition, cookies do not effect how a computer functions (such as its speed, reliability, or security).
Dialer: Dialers are applications that connect to the internet via the user’s modem. Some dialers call premium-rate numbers without the user’s consent, thereby incurring charges on the user’s phone bill. Programs that install dialers without informing the user, or which make unauthorized calls using the user’s modem, are considered badware under StopBadware.org’s guidelines.
DNS error page: A domain name server (“DNS”) error page is what appears in a web browser when an internet address cannot be found (for example, when a user mistypes a URL). Most web browsers display a standard error page by default. Some applications may change this default error page in order to redirect a user to another page, such as an advertising or search portal. Programs that do not inform users that they will be changing the default DNS error page are considered badware.
Download: the word “download” is both a verb and a noun. When something is “downloaded” from the internet it means that it is transferred to the user’s computer. Many types of content can be downloaded, including applications, pictures, and music. Often programs that are downloaded are referred to as “downloads.”
End User License Agreement (EULA): A EULA is a legal agreement that users are often asked to consent to when downloading a new program. EULA’s typically describe the legal parameters for downloading and using a program. They may also inform users about the program’s behavior. Under StopBadware.org’s guidelines, informing users in the EULA about annoying or potentially objectionable behaviors is a start; however, such behaviors must also be disclosed separately in a clear, human-readable fashion.
Firewall: Firewalls can help protect a computer by blocking other users from getting into the computer or network and by keeping internet access secure. If a program on your computer attempts to send data to another computer without your knowledge, a firewall can alert you to the activity. Firewalls can be useful for identifying spyware. For more information about installing a firewall, see our recommendations page.
HTML: HTML is the standard computer language used for websites. This langauge tells web browsers how to display text, graphics, and other elements on the site.
Install / Installation: Installation is the process by which a program becomes active on a computer. After a program is downloaded, it must be installed on a computer before it can be used. During the installation, the program should clearly identify itself and what it does.
Keylogging: Keylogging, also known as keystroke logging, refers to the ability of a program to record the user’s keystrokes. While there are legitimate uses for keylogging, some badware includes keylogging functionality with the intent of stealing users’ passwords or personal information.
Pop-ups: Pop-ups are a type of advertisement that literally “pops up” in a new window while a user is using their computer. Some pop-ups appear when a user navigates to certain websites via their web browser. These pop-ups are a common form of online advertisement, and may web browsers have a built in pop-up blocker that prevents the ads from being displayed. Other pop-ups are generated by adware or spyware that appear regardless of the website a user visits – sometimes these pop-ups even appear when a user is not on the internet. This latter category of pop-ups is difficult to block because they come from programs installed on the user’s computer. Under StopBadware.org’s guidelines, applications must inform users during installation if they will be generating pop-up ads. In addition, any pop-up ads they display must be clearly identified as originating from that application. Programs that fail to inform users ahead of time and that fail to identify their pop-ups are considered badware.
Pop-up blocker: As the name suggests, a pop-up blocker is a program that blocks pop-up advertisements. Most web browsers include settings that can control the amount of pop-ups the user receives, and there are other programs that contain pop-up blockers as well. Pop-up blockers generally block only those pop-ups that are attached to websites, not pop-ups that are generated by adware installed on the user’s computer.
Pop-Under: Same as pop-ups except the new window opens behind the current one.
Program: Programs are applications that enable computers to perform a specific task. Programs can take a near-infinite number of forms, from web browsers, to games, to word processing programs, etc. Users can download programs off of the web and install them on their computer, or they may purchase a program on a CD. Programs provide some kind of service to the user – such as a web browser, a computer game, or an instant messenger service. “Program” can be used interchangeably with the terms “software” and “application.”
Malware: Malware is short for “malicious software.” This is a generic term that includes any software that is intended to cause harm to a user’s computer (such as viruses, worms, etc.). Although “malware” is similar to “badware,” the term “badware” focuses more on the effect of a program on the user, rather than the intent of the program’s creator.
Malicious Software: See: Malware.
Rootkit: Rootkits are programs that are used to hack into computers. They can be used to monitor activity on a user’s computer (like spyware), alter important files, gain access to other computers on the user’s network, and engage in other destructive activities. In addition, rootkits typically camouflage themselves, making it difficult for users to detect or remove them.
Software: Software are the applications and programs that enable computers to perform a specific task. Software can take a near-infinite number of forms, from web browsers, to games, to word processing programs, etc. Users can download software off of the web and install it on their computer, or they may purchase software on a CD. Software provides some kind of service to the user – such as a web browser, a computer game, or an instant messenger service. “Software” can be used interchangeably with the terms “program” and “application.”
Spyware: Spyware is software that gathers information about a computer user, often without that person’s knowledge or consent. Spyware watches what users do with their computers (such as what websites they visit), and sends that information back to a central location (usually the company that produced the spyware). This information is often given to other companies, who then target the user for their advertisements. Especially bad spyware can gather information about email addresses, passwords, and even credit card information and transmit it to other companies. Spyware is often installed as bundled software. Under StopBadware.org’s guidelines, spyware is considered badware if it does not tell the user about the data that it will collect and how it will use that data.
Trojan horse: Trojan horses are applications that can secretly install additional programs on a user’s computer without telling the user. These new programs may be destructive to the user or his computer (such as spyware, adware, or other forms of badware). Although the behavior of Trojan horses is similar to Automatic Updating, the latter term is generally used for programs that are installing new components with the user’s consent.
Unistall/Uninstallation: Unistallation is the process by which a program becomes inactive on a computer. For example, when a user decides to get rid of a piece of software, they would uninstall it, either using the uninstaller provided by the program or through Windows’ Add/Remove programs functionality. Programs that don’t allow for simple or complete uninstallation are considered badware under StopBadware.org’s guidelines.
URL: URL is short for “Uniform Resource Locator,” which is the address of a website. For example, www.sysmox.com is a URL.
Virus: Viruses are annoying or harmful programs that spread by inserting themselves into other programs, documents, or email attachments. Users may inadvertently download viruses by clicking on an email attachment or instant message link. The virus will then attempt to infect other machines by emailing or instant messaging itself to everyone in the user’s address book. Once a computer is infected, the virus often inflicts some form of harm, from overloading the computer’s memory and slowing down the machine, to intentionally destroying important information or programs.
Web browser: Web browsers are software that lets us access the web. Technically, the web browser interprets the HTML files and formats them into web pages, then displays the pages to the user. Examples of popular web browsers include Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari.
Web Page Web pages are how most information is displayed on the internet. You are currently reading a web page which is part of the sysmox.com website.
Website: The internet is made up of many individual websites. For example, the web page you are currently reading is part of the sysmox.com’s website. Each website on the internet is created by a different company, organization, or individual. Some websites, may contain applications that can harm computers (this site may harm your computer)
Windows’ Add/Remove programs: See Add/Remove Programs.
Worm: Worms are a specific type of virus. Worms are annoying or harmful programs that exploit security flaws in a computer or network in order to spread to other machines. They do this by replicating themselves on any machine that shares a certain security vulnerability. Like other viruses, they often harm infected computers.