Essay by SkyStormUniversity, Bachelor'sB, November 2007

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The history of Spyware is very interesting and informative for those who are serious about trying wanting to understand this threat. There is no denying the fact that Spyware today not only widespread but also an extremely serious threat to all computer users.

The first recorded use of the term "Spyware" is believed to have occurred in October 1995 in a Usenet post, which referenced Microsoft's business model. The term was actually used to refer to hardware such as cameras positioned for the purpose of espionage. This changed in 1999 when Gregor Freund of Zone Labs used the term to refer to his Zone Alarm personal Firewall product (wikipedia, 2007) (Commission, 2006) (Moldings, 2007). Then in 2000, Gibson Research launched the first anti-Spyware product, Opt Out. Steve Gibson, the developer of Opt Out, described spyware as "any software that employs a user's Internet connection in the background (the so-called 'backchannel') without their knowledge or explicit permission."

The term Spyware at the outset referred to software installed without the knowledge and consent of users and that operated surreptitiously.

Spyware has become commonplace on computers today. Some software distributors actually include spyware packaged with the products they disseminate to consumers through many different channels. For example, spyware may be included with software that an original equipment manufacturer pre-installs on computers prior to purchase, or with programs that users purchase from software retailers. Spyware can be "bundled" with other software applications that may be made available to users at no cost, such as P2P file-sharing software, screen savers, games and even attached to your computer as you browse different websites in much the same way as "cookies". Spyware has been known to be installed from a web page and are distributed by means that exploit vulnerabilities displayed by many browsers. They use...