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also known as
adware, is any software that
covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet
connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising
purposes. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the
Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone
else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses,
passwords, and even credit card numbers.
Malware is similar to
spyware except that it damages or corrupts your computer much like a
HOW DOES IT GET ON MY COMPUTER?
Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of
freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the
Internet. (However, it should be noted that the majority of
shareware and freeware applications do not come with spyware.)
programs and porn sites are major sources of spyware. Spyware is
similar to a
Horse in that users unwittingly install the product when they
install something else. A common way to become a victim of spyware
is to download certain P2P and
products (like Limewire
and BearShare, etc.) that are available today.
Even software that you think is safe to download and use (such as
Download Accelerator) are
actually considered spyware because they check the websites you
visit and then send back ads that are in relation to those
websites. Other software such as
Rate Dialers are also a big problem.
CAN SPYWARE DO?
Aside from the questions of ethics and privacy, spyware steals from
the user by using the computer's memory resources and also by eating
bandwidth as it sends information back to the spyware' home base
via the Internet connection. The user often has several
different spyware programs installed on their PCs at the same time.
Because each spyware program running in the background is using
memory and system resources, applications running in the foreground
will run more slowly. Additionally, often the various spyware
applications contend with one another which can lead to system
crashes or general system instability.
Because spyware exists as independent executable programs, they have
the ability to monitor keystrokes, scan files on the hard drive,
snoop other applications, such as chat programs or word processors,
install other spyware programs, read cookies, change the default
home page on the Web browser, consistently relaying this information
back to the spyware author who will either use it for advertising /
marketing purposes or sell the information to another party.
are a form of spyware that can be used to trace and log all data
that you type. Your PC and web browser can also be
BHO hijackers meaning that your browser's homepage could be
redirected and thus taken over by certain
IS IT LEGAL?
Licensing agreements that accompany software downloads sometimes
warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with
the requested software. But licensing agreements may not always be
read completely and the notice of a spyware installation is often
couched in obtuse, hard-to-read legal disclaimers.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE SPYWARE?
symptoms are similar to those from a virus:
PC may be slower, with higher CPU usage than usual.
icons and shortcuts may appear on your Desktop, and extra bookmarks
in your Favorites.
Web browser may have a search/tool bar that you’ve never seen before
and a new home page.
ads may appear even when a browser is not open.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Thankfully there is software that you can use to eliminate spyware.
Some are commercial products and others are free for personal use.
Of the free-for-personal-use group, we recommend Microsoft's
Windows Defender program. (Click here to download.) The
reason we recommend Windows Defender over the others is that it comes
perform automatic definition updates and to perform an automatic
scans everyday at 2:00 AM. However, there are other
high quality free-for-personal-use anti-spyware tools available such as both
SpyBot Search & Destroy. Together, these three programs can
be used to effectively remove most any and all spyware.
HOW CAN I PREVENT THIS FROM FROM HAPPENING?
Fortunately you can prevent this from happening. We recommend installing
the Windows Defender software from Microsoft. It will protect your
from future spyware attacks. Additionally, it will
automatically scan your system for spyware everyday at 2:00 AM.
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