Spyware: Im going to attempt to tackle this 'growing problem' that we ALL have encountered at one point or another. For those of you who do not know what im talking about, allow me to describe it to you in another way...
What is Spyware?
In a general view, spyware can be defined as any technology that covertly retrieves information on an individual or organization.
Pop-up's when you're not even online? Extra buttons on your browser that you dont remember adding? Computer constantly running slow? More could be and (in many cases) IS going on 'behind the scenes' as you browse the internet unaware of spyware installed on your computer 'watching' your every move...
Ok, be more specific...
More specifically, with an overview of the various definitions of spyware, you can come up with at least two different classes, The advertising spyware, and surveillance spyware.
Surveillance Spyware may include: Complete logging of keys pressed, sites visited, even passwords, internet connections, windows viewed- pretty much anything. These tools may often be used by companies, law or even just parents.
Want to see an example? This website sells a "PC Monitoring" tool: Online-Spying.com
I recommend doing a google search if you would like to see more about surveillance spyware. Next-
Advertising Spyware: I would refer these to trojans. They come in many different forms. Installed with other programs by active x on the internet, with or without you knowing. Gathers personal information, including passwords, email addresses, web history, online purchases, Your computer's hardware and software configuration. Everything that is none of their business.
Companies that include spyware will take this information gathered and use it to their advantage. Whatever that may be, specifically- you can only guess. With all of that information, they could accomplish more than you may realize, and that has got to stop.
What does this mean to you?
Do not ever think spyware is a good thing. It would difficult to find anything good about spyware, and if some site attempted to boost it, its likely that they are doing it themselves and wanting you to download their product.
Quote from BlackIce, a popular well known firewall company in reference to spyware, "...software companies have been known to use spyware to gather data about customers. The practice is generally frowned upon."(blackice.iss.net/glossary.php)
Not only will spyware gather personal information from your computer, but it also uses us system resources by the advertising and makes your system more unstable, and can pose possible security risks by opening unnecessary TCP/IP ports. Bottom line, spyware is exactly what its name is, SPYware.
Umm, Thats Scary- how would something like that get on my computer?
The biggest perpetrators of spyware are in the peer to peer file sharing networks, such as Kazaa or Limewire. If you have downloaded programs such as this, it is extremely likely that you indeed have spyware installed on your system.
Their are hundreds and im sure thousands of programs today that have spyware included with them. Again- some links to help you out. Heres a few links that list programs that are known to include spyware:
Safer Networking and also SpyChecker is a very helpful spyware site.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you have visited the sypchecker site above, you have noticed that their are now tools availabe for you to 'scan' your computer for spyware installed. Also, these program do have the ability to remove the spyware on your system.
So their is something that can be done. Its not like this is something that now everyone must deal with because it seems like almost every company that produces software is doing it. Just because they're including spyware, doesnt mean that its right. And I personally would like to have my personal information kept personal, unless I decide otherwise.
So, in conclusion; spyware is obviously a growing problem, however I believe that it can be stopped. Everyone must first become aware of these actions. Protect yourself and others. If you know of a family member or friend that is suffering from symptoms of spyware or even have the slightest suspicion, direct them towards this tutorial or a link provided above. Everyone has the right to know whats going on. Spyware is illegal, do everything you can to spread the knowledge and protection... spyware will come to an end.
Links listed, and others to see:
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