spyware


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spyware

(software)
(Or "adware") Any type of software that transmits information without the user's knowledge.

Information is sent via the Internet to a server somewhere, normally as a hidden side effect of using a program. Gathering this information may benefit the user indirectly, e.g. by helping to improve the software he is using. It may be collected for advertising purposes or, worst of all, to steal security information such as passwords to online accounts or credit card details.

Spyware may be installed along with other software or as the result of a virus infection. There are many tools available to locate and remove various forms of spyware from a computer.

Some HTTP cookies could be considered as spyware as their use is generally not made explicit to users. It is however possible to disallow them, either totally or individually, and some are actually useful, e.g. recording the fact that a user has logged in.

http://spychecker.com/spyware.html.

spyware

Software that sends information about your Web surfing habits to its website. Often quickly installed in your computer in combination with a free download you selected from the Web, spyware transmits information in the background as you move around the Web. Also known as "parasite software," "scumware," "junkware" and "thiefware," spyware is occasionally installed just by visiting a website (see drive-by download).

Spyware May Even Identify Itself
The license agreement that nobody ever reads may actually state that you are installing spyware and explain what it does. For example, it might say that the program performs anonymous profiling, which means that your habits are being recorded, not you individually. Such software is used to create marketing profiles; for example, people who go to website "A" often go to site "B" and so on. Spyware may deliver competing products in real time. For example, if you go to a Web page and look for a minivan, an ad for a competitor's vehicle might pop up (see adware).

Spyware Is Focused
Merchants place ads with spyware advertisers because they feel their promotions are focused. In fact, many feel that the Internet has opened up the most intelligent marketing system the world has ever seen. Merchants say they are targeting prospects who are really interested in their products, and spyware vendors argue that as long as they treat users anonymously, they are not violating privacy.

There are also spyware programs that keep changing the home page in the browser to a particular website or just keep popping up ads all the time (see adware). Nevertheless, once you detect spyware, it can be eliminated, albeit with difficulty sometimes.

Spyware blockers can detect an invasion of spyware into your computer and have become as popular as antivirus programs. See PUP, spyware blocker, adware, snoopware, parasite, spam and wares.

Spyware vs. Viruses


Since spyware and adware are unwanted software, it would seem that antivirus software should detect spyware and adware as well as viruses and Trojans. Although some security suites provide all these capabilities, antispyware and antivirus modules are typically separate functions.

Perhaps, it evolved in different camps because the intent of the software is different. Virus writers want to be exposed to the world at large so they can one-up their peers, the "xyz virus contaminated 100 million computers" type of glory. On the other hand, spyware writers want their software to remain hidden and perform their tasks for months to come.

However, Trojans are viruses that are designed to remain hidden in the computer as well, so the two philosophies do overlap. Perhaps, in time, a new category of "anti-insanity" software will take care of all of it.
References in periodicals archive ?
Advocates of legislation want specific laws to stop spyware. For
spyware is difficult to define and consequently legislation could have
The recent surge of broadband Internet users has fuelled the growing annoyance with spyware. Broadband Internet facilitates the installation of spyware because a large percentage of users tend to use peer-to-peer (P2P) applications that allow easy file transfers (including large video and audio files) across networks.
For these reasons, spyware is not well understood as a research topic (Zhang 2005).
However, spyware is not limited to this functionality; various kinds of spyware can also capture users' personal information (46) or, in the case of keyloggers, every keystroke that the user enters, (47) and some programs can reinstall themselves after the user attempts to delete them.
Spyware has other uses beyond aggressive commercial marketing.
Spyware is capable of gathering a wide range of information, including web-surfing habits, each and every keystroke, e-mail messages, credit-card information, and other personal information on users' computers (Adelman, 2005).
Spyware operates in relative secrecy, gathering end-user information without the end-user's consent or knowledge.
If a bug is identified, the software usually gives you three options: ignore it (in the event you recognize what you found isn't really spyware), quarantine it (if you're not sure what it is and want to cordon it off for safety) or delete it.
(Donations are accepted.) The program offers the option to apply either an easy or an advanced interface for customized scanning and spyware removal.
Because spyware doesn't appear to be suspicious or malicious, it is responsible for the largest percentage of data and ID theft and online banking fraud.
Spyware, however, can monitor more than just the Web