PC security is a growing concern as more and more people get connected to the internet, one culprit is spyware which is software that is installed surreptitiously on your personal computer. Such software nasties can collect various types of personal information, but can also interfere with the user control of the computer in other ways, such as installing additional software, redirecting Web browser activity, accessing websites blindly that will cause more harmful viruses, or diverting advertising revenue to a third party. It can even change computer settings, resulting in slow connection speeds, different home pages, and loss of Internet or other programs.
Although not directly spread in the manner of a computer virus or worm, generally an infected system does not attempt to transmit the infection to other computers. Spyware can however come bundled with shareware or other downloadable utilities, as well as music CDs. Such threats, has led some Windows users to move to other platforms such as Linux or Apple Macintosh, which are less attractive targets for malware. When bundled with shareware applications the legalese text of an end-user license agreement (EULA) can indicate the presence of installed spyware.
Running anti-spyware software has become a widely recognized element of computer security for Microsoft Windows equipped PCs. According to a 2005 study by AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance, 61 percent of surveyed users’ computers had some kind of infection. Some “rogue" removal programs masquerade as security software, while actually spying themselves. Some spyware makers may infect a system through security holes in the Web browser or in other software.
The combination of user naiveté towards malware and the assumption by Internet Explorer that all ActiveX components are benign, led, in part, to the massive spread of spyware. Later versions of Internet Explorer offer fewer avenues for this attack.
Since users tend not to install software if they know that it will disrupt their working environment and compromise their privacy, one infection route is the Trojan horse method, by piggybacking on a piece of desirable software such as Kazaa or Limewire, the user is tricked into installing it. Whenever you install something on your PC, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Yes, everyone is at risk of losing their personal data and seriously damaging their computer.
Internet privacy has suddenly become a hot topic on the Internet. Spyware remains a continuing hassle and a potentially serious intrusion on your privacy and has become the fastest growing online threat.
Find out more about internet security and find free ways to remove spyware