Most people simply refer to spyware. The reality is that there are many different types of spyware. Each type has its own set of implications and complications.
One of the most common types of spyware is Adware. They are small pieces of software which has been downloaded onto your computer via the Internet. Adware predominantly affects Microsoft Windows users. The people who design and distribute spyware tend to attack Windows only systems.
These programs stay dormant until you connect to the Internet again. Once connected you’ll be swamped with popup, popover and pop-under ads for everything from airline tickets and free Disney holidays to porn site advertisements.
Worse again is the fact that information on your web viewing habits – what sites you’ve visited, how often, what you’ve purchased online etc. This data is then sold to marketing companies (spammers) who will proceed to send you more junk email and popups than you ever thought possible.
Why is there so much spyware? Money. The people who produce adware profit directly from it’s distribution in the same way that junk emailers or spammers do. Companies are promised that their advert will appear on 25 million computer screens. They’re charged x amount of money and the ads are then displayed for them. Alternatively the adware authors themselves own a small website that sells a product or service and the adware is their method of, potentially, increasing their revenue. It’s all about the almighty dollar, euro or pound folks.
You can never be certain whether your system is infected without scanning for and then removing the infected dlls and other files. The mere act of having to scan your system for these files is an annoying but necessary part of computer life in the new Millenium.
A common misconception amongst many computer users is that simply finding and deleting the adware files on your PC will prevent it from happening again. Spyware is becoming increasingly intelligent and is quite capable of downloading fresh copies of itself back onto your PC without your knowledge.
Needless to say, whenever you send sensitive information through the Internet, it’s imperative that the site you’re using has https enabled.