A Spyware Primer

Spyware is simply software that is generally installed without the computer users permission. After installation, it begins to obtain data and information regarding the users browsing habits and often times will also monitor and track other forms of personal data. The term spyware has recently mutated into a broader term referring to any type of software that is operating on a computer without the users consent to the benefit of an unauthorized third party.

Let us look at some functions that spyware performs without user authorization. Spyware can add affiliate links to shopping portals and thus capture commissions whenever purchases are made by the user. It can monitor internet activity and dictate future email and spam to the user. It can install other third party applications. It can hijack the user browser and add new homepages, icons and favorite links. And probably the most obvious affect of spyware is a very sluggish PC.

Microsoft Windows along with the Internet Explorer browser have been the primary targets of spyware, simply because they cater to the vast majority of users and are the software of choice. Using another operating system or browser may assist in reducing the risk of spyware, but only because it is less common and not because it is more secure. Unfortunately, downloading applications from the internet is the by far the most notable method of infection.

If you are becoming swamped with unwanted advertisements appearing while using your computer or other unwanted toolbars in your browser, it is most likely that you have some form of spyware infection. Kind in mind that probably the most of these come from pornographic and gambling sites, so you might want to consider steering clear of those sites and deleting any email you might receive from these type of sites. Many users are unaware of the incentives involved in spyware. Website owners can be paid as much as $0.50 for each install of an ActiveX control containing spyware, which can be very attractive to many undesirable sites.

After users have been taught some sensible precautions that can be easily taken when using the internet and about downloading software, the effects of spyware can be drastically reduced. It can actually be very straight forward to eliminate and remove spyware with the proper software. Remember that it is very important to combine effective anti-spyware tools with other anti-virus and Firewall applications for complete PC protection.

By: Charles Cox

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