is a peculiar, and insidious, type of computer virus
is any software that covertly gathers User information using the User's
internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for
advertising purposes. Spyware software is typically bundled as a hidden
component of FREEware antivirus software or SHAREware programs that can
be downloaded from the internet. However, it should be noted that the
majority of FREEware and SHAREware applications do NOT come with
Spyware. 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 and
even passwords or credit card numbers.
is similar to a Trojan Horse in that User's unwittingly install the
product when they install something else. A common way to become a
victim of Spyware is to download certain peer-to-peer file swapping
products that are available today. Also, free SCREEN SAVERS often
come with spyware!
from 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's home base via the User's
internet connection. Because Spyware is using memory and system
resources, the appications running in the background can lead to a
system crash or cause general system instability.
Spyware exists in the form of independent executable programs, called
".exe files," they have the ability to monitor keystrokes, scan files
on a hard drive, snoop other applications such as chat programs or word
processors, install other
programs, read cookies, change the default home page on your web
browser, and/or constantly relay all this information back to the
Spyware author who will either use it for advertising or marketing
purposes or even sell
information to another party.
agreements that accompany software downloads sometimes warn the User
that a Spyware program will
be installed along with the requested software, but the licensing
agreements are seldom read by User's happy to get something for
FREE. Let the "buyer" beware!
Caution: Spyware programs may remove some GOOD
things if you don't
watch them closely. For instance, some people, (us included), set their
web browser to "come up" with a blank page rather than automatically go
to an ISP's home page. This allows you to type in a web
to visit rather than having to wait for a page you do not want to see
to finish loading. To do this, when you choose "Start with a blank
page," (and if you use Internet Explorer), two entries are made in your
registry so that the browser will "remember" HOW you want it to start
up. Netscape browsers do not
do this. Some Spyware programs "flag" these registry changes by I.E. as
a "hijacking attempt" and want to delete them. You should put these
"good" registry entries into your Spyware "ignore" list.