|Spyware is software that runs on your personal
computer to monitor your activity without
your consent. Like its cloak and dagger namesake,
it can sneak onto your computer without informing
you, collect potentially sensitive information,
and report what it finds back to a location
on the Internet.
Spyware may only be as intrusive as someone
noting your interests, for example the web
sites you visit or the kinds of products
you buy on the Internet. Other, much more
dangerous versions, can capture the passwords
you use for account access, snoop into your
email, or look through the files on your
disk drive. Poorly written spyware may interfere
with the use of your personal computer or
even cause it to crash.
Spyware generally comes along with other
software that you download from sites on
the Internet. Sometimes there is a small
notice that is buried in the legal agreement
you are asked to accept to use the downloaded
software; often there is not, and the spyware
is part of the downloaded program or a separate
additional program that installs with the
Spyware can store its tracking information
in the Windows Registry, in the small, encoded
files that browsers use to preserve information
between web pages called cookies, or in their
own private storage files.
The surest way to avoid spyware is to never
download and install anything from the Internet.
More practically, you should be wary of installing
software from a site that is not well known
and purchase a special program to eliminate
Spyware protection programs operate in one
of two ways; on demand, they can look through
the files on your computer and identify those
that are spyware, or they can run all the
time checking that everything coming to your
computer from the Internet is free of spyware.
In either form, the spyware protection software
looks for patterns in the binary files that
match patterns in its list of known spyware.
In order for your protection against spyware
to remain effective, you must update the
list of patterns regularly from the vendor
of the spyware eliminator