Dealing With Spyware

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In the simplest terms, spyware does exactly what its name implies. It 'spies' on your PC, Spyware is any software, which on entering your PC, uses your internet connection to transmit information to its parent website, That information can range from your surfing habits to the sort of banners you are most likely to click on. The parent website is usually an advertising company, or a website which sells your private information to one.

There am numerous ways through which spywam can enter your PC. Spywam is usually bundled with some free software (freeware) that you download from the internet. It begins to store and transmit your private information to its parent website the minute you install and run the accompanying freeware. However, spyware does not get uninstalled when you decide to discontinue your use of the freeware, It stays right there. Of course, not all freeware is spyware, but a fair amount is. Apart from freeware, another type of software known as adware is also the source of spyware. Adware refers to software that is free for use, but supports advertising to remain free. Once installed, most adware can easily send your information to the advertising website/company that is supporting it. According to the adware distributors, the resultant revenue helps keep the software free.

Generally, there are five types of spyware:

1) Adware Networks: This form of spyware is well supported by advertisements. These advertisers pay people who publish games and music software per download. These software feature ads of those companies/websites and feed them information about the user who downloaded the applications.
2) Stalking Horses: Spyware presented to the user at the time of installation of any software, as useful add-ons.
3) Trojan Horses: A mixture of adware with at least one stalking horse makes a Trojan horse. KaZaA Media Desktop is one notorious example.
4) Backdoor Santas: This comes bundled with the software, but is usually not supported by it.
5) Cookies: Not your regular delicious eatables, they refer to small files on your computer, which are placed by certain websites. These files contain vital information about your PC. If misused by any website, it can easily be tracked by third-party advertisers or spyware networks.

No matter which type you have, once spyware is well inside your PC, it acts as tracking software ("spyware agent") and uses your internet connection as a back channel to feed advertisers your private information. The different types of spyware agents can do a lot more than just that. has recognized five types of spyware agents:
1) Malware: It can easily modify your system settings, causing your PC to perform certain tasks.
2) Hijacker: It attacks your browser's homepage and resets it to the advertiser's website.
3) Dialer: This agent dials different websites and you get billed for it.
4) Trojan Horse: This causes your system to perform unwanted tasks.
5) Collectware: This, as the name implies, collects information about your surfing habits.

Spyware isn't a problem that can be easily ignored. You may think that there is nothing whatsoever on your PC that would be of interest to any advertiser. But remember, spyware can still make your internet life very miserable because of the following:

a) Increased spam: There is no limit to the number of advertisers who may receive your e-mail address to add to their spam mailing list. After all, the people behind the spyware earn millions selling your email address. And if junk e-mail isn't annoying, I don't know what is.
b) Increased popup windows: The advertisers have a field day targeting you with ads they think you'd be interested in.
c) Resets browser homepage: Spyware can cause your default homepage setting in internet Explorer to change from your settings to the hijackers' settings. Even if you manually change the IE's default homepage setting, it will simply revert back once you restart your PC. And trust me, the websites set by the hijackers to be your default homepage can be pretty annoying.
d) Scans your browsing history and temporary internet files: It does so to obtain more information about your browsing habits.
e) Installs executable files without your knowledge: Even when you uninstall the parent software, the spyware remains firmly in place on your PC. Executable files also ensure that your homepage remains hijacked.
f) Infiltrates: Makes it easier for hackers to infiltrate your PC and gain access to passwords and credit card information.
g) Sends information to other spyware programs: Spyware makes your PC vulnerable to other spyware and adware networks, which can easily find a way into your PC, infesting it with unwanted software even more.


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