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 system.

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 today.
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.)