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COMPUTER SPYWARE, WHAT IS IT AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

ADWARE SPYWARE, WHAT IS IT?

Computer Spyware- The term computer spyware is generally used to refer to any software that is downloaded onto a person's computer without their knowledge. It will then "spy" on you.

Adware Spyware or Adware- The term Adware Spyware generally refers to programs that collect general demographic information for advertisers. It is often lumped with the term Computer Spyware.

WHAT DOES SPYWARE DO?

Spyware may collect information about a computer user's activities and transmit that information to someone else. It may change computer settings, or cause "pop-up" advertisements to appear (in that context, it is called "adware").

Computer spyware may redirect a Web browser to a site different from what the user intended to visit, or change the user's home page.

However, the danger that worries most people more is invasion of privacy. Spyware programs can collect all sorts of data off your computer to send back to its maker. Usually it's information that can be used for advertising/marketing analysis, such as what Web sites you visit frequently.

However, there is the potential for computer spyware programs to gather almost any information stored on your computer, including financial/credit card information and personal ID information (for the purpose of identity theft), e-mail addresses of your contacts (for spamming purposes) and so forth.

A type of computer spyware called "key logging" software records individual keystrokes, even if the author modifies or deletes what was written, or if the characters do not appear on the monitor. Thus, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personally identifiable information may be captured and relayed to unauthorized recipients.

Computer spyware can slow the overall performance of your computer to a crawl. It may steal bandwidth from your high speed broadband connection thus slowing down Internet access as one or many spyware programs repetitively call “home” with their ill gotten information.

The answer to the question, should you care? is now rather obvious, isn’t it? You better believe it!

MOST USERS ARE UNAWARE THAT
THEY HAVE COMPUTER SPYWARE

Some of these software programs have legitimate applications the computer user wants. They obtain the moniker "spyware" when they are installed surreptitiously, or perform additional functions of which the user is unaware. Users typically do not realize that spyware is on their computer.

They may have unknowingly downloaded computer spyware from the Internet by clicking within a website, or it might have been included in an attachment to an electronic mail message (e-mail) or embedded in other software.

ALMOST EVERYBODY HAS SPYWARE

According to a survey and tests conducted by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance, 80% of computers in the test group were infected by computer spyware or adware, and 89% of the users of those computers were unaware of it.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consumer alert on spyware in October 2004.

THE TWELVE SIGNS THAT YOUR MACHINE IS INFECTED WITH COMPUTER SPYWARE

To see what the signs of possible spyware infestation may be, check out our article, Spyware Detector|Detection|Detect Spyware.

LEGAL STATUS

Several states have passed computer spyware laws, but there is no specific federal law regarding computer spyware.

A central point of the debate is whether new laws are needed, or if industry self-regulation, coupled with enforcement actions under existing laws such as the Federal Trade Commission Act, is sufficient. The lack of a precise definition for spyware is cited as a fundamental problem in attempting to write new laws.

Consumer concern about control of their computers being taken over by spyware, and resulting impacts on their privacy, leads others to conclude that legislative action is needed.

HOW DO I FIX THE PROBLEM?

Check out our article, SPYWARE KILLER|REMOVER for the spyware remover tools to fix the problem. This great article also gives you a list of Thou Shall Not’s as computer spyware preventative medicine.

Buying a fake anti-spyware program will open a Pandora's Box of Spyware on your system. Learn about one such rogue program in our article, Spybot%2BSearch%2Band%2BDestroy.

For a review of Spy Sweeper, one of our recommended computer spyware removal tools, take a look at SPYWARE REMOVER. This article also desribes the experience of one of the Tweak All Consultants with computer spyware.

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