What is spyware?


 First of all, spyware takes on many names. You might hear it called spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity, we will just refer to it generally as “spyware”. This software is almost always installed without your consent. If you have done a virus scan but your computer is still not up to par, there is a good chance you still have something on your computer. There is a chance that whatever still resides is probably spyware. If you suspect this is the case, give us a call and we can help.

Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more. There is a thumbnail next to each of the listed characteristics if you want to see an example. Just click the thumbnail for a large version.

Deceptive functionality:

  •  Spyware often uses a classic “Trojan horse” tactic–like a virus. It offers to synchronize your PC’s clock or keep track of forms, but it is also doing other hidden things while you browse.

Home page hijacking:

  • Did you ever find that your homepage was changed, or discover new sites in Favorites that you didn’t add? It might be spyware.

Loss of privacy:

  • Some spyware keeps track of the websites you visit and sends that information back to the spyware vendor. Do you want to tell everyone?

More advertising:

  • Did you install a popup stopper but you are still getting popups? The ads you are getting may not be from the website you are on, but from spyware.

Stolen advertising:

  • Instead of showing the ads that should appear on a website, some spyware substitutes its own ads which can rob a website of revenue. OR, if you go to a general site like google.com and it looks nothing like google.com it serves the same purpose… theft.

Broken websites:

  • Spyware sometimes changes the actual content on a web page, and in the process, it “breaks” the page. The page may not look correct, or you may get Javascript errors.

Reduced performance:

  • Spyware uses up system resources, CPU time, memory, disk space, and Internet bandwidth, making your system slower.

System instability:

  •  Most spyware isn’t very well tested or debugged, and there is no way to report bugs or obtain tech support. The result can be system crashes, hangs, or other strange behavior.

Security risks:

  • Some spyware has a built-in update feature that lets the spyware maker download and installs new code to your system without your knowledge or approval. Sometimes it can be in plain sight, and sometimes you would never know.