What is spyware?
Spyware is a bit of a overused term. It can apply to adware,
trojans, browser hijackers, and more. By definition spyware is a
type of malware which is designed to report back to its maker (or
some other party) with information about the user.
The most common type of spyware is adware and the so-called
browser-hijackers. In this instance the spyware is used to gather
information on your browsing habits, and may also serve ads to the
user. Many of these programs will insert their own advertisements
over that which belong to the website youre visiting or even add
their own. Spyware is often programmed to change the users homepage
and may insert bookmarks. Some spyware is known to block websites
they dislike, websites for antivirus companies and spyware removal
software are the usual targets.
Adware and browser-hijackers exist on the very edge of legality.
They often blur the lines between virus and application, purporting
to provide some useful service to the user such as online savings
through a referral program or somesuch. As a result they are not
always picked up by virus scanners.
Trojans however make no bones about their illegality. Trojans
are viruses which are desinged to allow someone else to take over
control of the system. Trojans (named after the Trojan horse of
lore) open up the computers back door so to speak, and whoever gets
in will have the ability to do anything they want to your computer,
just like they were sitting at your desk.
How do these programs get on your machine? Spyware is often
packaged with some freeware application you may have downloaded.
Limewire in particular comes with several spyware programs
piggiebacking their way into your system. Even after the primary
application is removed, the spyware will still be in there.
Sometimes they are brought in by a malicious script on a website
you visited. There are many ways spyware can creep into your
Luckily, there are free programs out there which can
automatically scan your system & remove spyware. Spybot Search
& Destroy is an excellent freeware title which also has a
number of useful system utilities built in, and is linked below.
Lavasoft Adaware also has a free version (although you might have
to dig for it) and is also an excellent spyware scanner.
Note: Since spyware scanners have become so popular, the spyware
producers themselves have gotten into the business of producing
their own spyware scanners. There are several out there which will
ignore specific spyware programs, or even worse, install them! User
beware! Any software that covertly gathers user information through
the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge,
usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are
typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or
sharewareprograms that can be downloaded from the Internet;
however, it should be noted that the majority of shareware and
freeware applications do not come with spyware. Once installed, the
spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that
information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also
gather information about e-mailaddresses and even passwords and
credit card numbers. Spyware is similar to a Trojan horse in that
users unwittingly install the product when they install something
else. A common way to become a victim of spyware is to download
certain peer-to-peer file swapping products that are available
I think the word you meant was "spyware." Spyware is usually a
type of program that keeps you fom getting viruses and such things
bad for your computer. Once you do get something like that, they
ask you to quarantine it. For instance, if you go to the Google
home page and you choose to download Google Chrome - you get a
virus. (I have tried it - Trojan virus is what you get.)