What is Spyware?

Spyware is a type of software that is used to covertly to gather personal information, such as passwords, financial data, and shopping preferences. Spyware is usually self installing, though it can come as an unwanted guest of some boxed software. There are four main types of spyware, which are detailed below.

Spyware was designed behind semi-legitimate purposes such as gathering marketing information across a wide group of people without specifically looking at what the individual Internet surfers were doing. Marketers were basically trying to figure out what type of ads to post at 7pm. That in and of itself is a powerful little detail that allowed marketers quickly to hone in on specific markets. Cha-Ching! So why not improve it to bring individual Internet Surfers specific ads on topics that they are interested in, and spyware evolved. In the meantime, people will be people and those of us who are dishonest began to see that this was a tool that could be used to steal data that could be used for a personal reason. Thus, the malicious element of spyware became one of the worlds worst Internet security threats. Spyware is no joke it can do serious damage to peoples lives, their computers, and their financial welfare.

Spyware is quite a bit different than a virus or a worm. Both the virus and the worm try to spread across the internet by replicating. Spyware is not interested in spreading itself. It’s intent is only to gather data without the users permission.

These four types of spyware can all be considered dangerous, though some are used for legitimate research the majority are used to cause malicious harm.

System Monitors:

System Monitors are any type of hardware or software that monitors what a computer user does. This category includes keyloggers and other software/hardware that is used to record every detail that occurs on a computer. This includes copying your emails, financial data, and personal data, like your address, phone number, social security card, drivers license number and any other important, but private data.

Trojans:

Trojans are malicious software that is disguised as something friendly and nice… a pretty butterfly that turns into a wolf and eats you… well not exactly but not too far from the truth. This is a type of program that you invite in thinking that it is something else and quickly find out that it just stole all of your data and physically harmed your computer. Trojans are usually acquired from email or as an attached program in a bundle. These can be very powerful and very difficult to get rid off your computer.

Adware:

As it’s name, implies this type of spyware is associated with advertising supported software such as pop-ups. Though usually harmless they are there without your permission, and they are a pain to deal with as the pop-ups keep popping up. They can be a sign and symptom of more advanced infection or can even indicate the presence of a trojan.

Tracking Cookies:

Cookies are bits of data that are stored by your browser. They are used to help your computer interact with websites that you have visited. Tracking cookies; however are different. They track your movements on the Internet and exploit that data to make the software developer money. As technology increases, we are seeing that tracking cookies are able to link to other “sponsored” sites where it shares your personal data, passwords, and Internet History.

The key, and ethical argument about spyware is that it is there without your permission. It would not be called spyware if it were honestly represented or if the user gave permission for the program to be installed.

If you are concerned about spyware, you can purchase an anti-spyware security software that will help to remove any spyware that your computer may have and prevent future infestations from occurring.

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