What is Spyware?

Essay by hamncheese132A, September 2005

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Spyware is any type of software that gathers information's through the user's internet connection without his or her knowledge. It performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information or changing the configuration of your computer, without the user's permission. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. Spyware monitors user activity on the internet and transmits that information back to its creators. It can also gather info about e-mail address and even passwords and credit card numbers.

Spyware is similar to a Trojan horse in that users unwittingly install the product when they install something else. A common way to become a victim of Spyware is to download certain peer-to-peer file swapping products that are available today such as the infamous Kazaa, Emule, Bearshare and Imesh but these programs offer non-ad supported versions and no Spyware on the purchased versions.

Spyware steals from the user by using the computer's memory resources and also by eating bandwidth as it sends information back to the Spyware's author via the user's Internet connection. Because Spyware is using memory and system resources, the applications running in the background can lead to system crashes or general system instability.

Spyware exists as independent executable programs and has the power to monitor key strokes, scan files on your hard drive, read chat programs and word documents, send advertisements, read cookies, track internet activity, hijack default home page on the internet browser and constantly send information back to the author via an internet connection. Licensing agreements that accompany software downloads warn the user that it contains Spyware but may not always be read, because it is usually in hard to read disclaimers.

Signs of Spyware:

You see pop-up advertisements even when you're not on...