What Is Spyware?

Hooded computer hacker stealing information with laptop

Spyware is becoming the virtual plague of the new Millennium. Just as you’re barely getting to grips with fighting floods of spam, blocking viruses and fiddling with firewalls you now have a new threat – spyware.

Once upon a time the only way your computer could become infected with virues, trojans and other such bugs was to receive them via a floppy disk or infected email. Those days are gone. Spyware is lurking on the Internet just waiting for you. Some people also refer to spyware as malware or parasiteware.

Just when we’re all getting used to fighting spam, blocking viruses and tweaking our firewalls we now have to deal with a new threat – spyware. Once upon a time the only way your computer could become infected with viruses or bugs was to receive them via email or off a floppy disk. Not so anymore. Spyware is lurking online just waiting for you. In some circles you’ll also hear spyware referred to as malware or parasiteware.

Spyware are pieces of software designed to compromise your online safety, security and privacy. They’re normally downloaded onto your PC without your consent or through deceptive means. Spyware, once on your PC, can perform tasks ranging from redirecting your web browser to porno sites to logging every word you type on your keyboard. That’s right. Every single word you type in your private Instant Messages and emails can easily be recorded and transmitted to somebody else. Scary stuff!

Some spyware is just plain annoying but other types are extremely malicious. Keeping your anti-virus and firewall software up to date has never been more important. That alone it itself is not enough anymore and you’re going to need to employ the services of spyware removal software.

Spyware will get onto your PC in one of three ways:

File Sharing Applications

Programs such as Kazaa and iMesh are riddled with spyware. Installing either of these programs on a clean Windows installation (no other programs installed) will result in anywhere from 25 – 100+ pieces of spyware being installed on your computer. If you really need to use file sharing applications have a look at something like Kazaa Lite or Bearshare instead.

Warez/porn/movie/crack sites

These websites are normally loaded down with every conceivable type of spyware. The most common trick is for a message to popup saying “Download Warez Search 2000 to continue”. You click OK. Your PC is now infected with spyware, a virus or maybe even a modem hijacker. Visit these websites at your own risk.

Viruses/Trojans

The people who write viruses are now combining viruses with spyware to form hybrid software that both causes problems with your PC and steals your password and private information.

90% of viruses are received via email. If you receive an email from somebody you don’t know with files attached to it simply delete the email. If not you run the risk of serious virus infection. Note that about 300 new viruses appear each month so it’s absolutely critical to have up-to-date virus software installed on your computer.

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