What is Spyware?
Spyware is a catch-all term for any type of software that is designed to mine your computer for data, log your keystrokes or other use of the computer, or allow unauthorized remote access to your computer.
Spyware may arrive on your computer in the form of a trojan or other virus, or it may be placed on your machine by a script kiddy or amateur hacker who came upon your computer during a random scan for vulnerable IP addresses.
Much less commonly, spyware may be placed on your machine by someone who specifically wants to track your activities for one reason or another.
But the great bulk of spyware is less glamorous. In fact, it isn’t even illegal.
Most spyware is advertising-related. If you have ever downloaded a “free” program like KaZaa, Bonzi Buddy, Gator, or many, many others, then it’s almost certain that you have spyware running on your computer. Even simply visiting some Web pages (especially “adult” sites, warez sites, torrent sites, hacking and cracking sites, and some “free” online diary and journal sites) can install spyware on your machine.
Advertising-related spyware (sometimes called adware) is software that mines your computer for data — such as records of your Internet usage — and sells this information to advertising companies. From there, the information will be used to send you targeted ads and spam. Depending on the company collecting the information, the data may also be sold to others who care to purchase it.
Once spyware programs are installed and running on your computer, you really have little control over what information is mined and how it is distributed.
In addition to violating your privacy, spyware also slows and destabilizes your computer. It consumes system resources and wastes network bandwidth running advertising processes that do not benefit you in any way; and it clogs your computer’s registry with garbage entries that can create software conflicts, errors, and sometimes even system crashes.
There are, as of this writing, more than 12,000 different advertising spyware programs in use; if even a small fraction of these make it on to the same computer at the same time, the machine will be rendered useless.
But there’s Good News
We hate spyware as much as you do. If you live or work on the Sunshine Coast of BC we can help. Spyware removal is one of our specialties, and we’ll come to your location to thoroughly purge your system of aggressive marketing spyware that hogs your computer’s resources and violates your privacy. For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us.
The moral of the story is…
There’s (almost) no such thing as a free ride. Although some programmers have chosen to give their work to the world as truly free software, the great bulk of “free” stuff available on the Internet is infested with spyware that slows your computer; wastes your bandwidth; violates your privacy; makes your computer more vulnerable to hacking, cracking, and viruses; and can even lead to identity theft in some cases.