Spyware

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Spyware is a type of malware, which helps hackers and various companies gather information about users and networks. It is not always employed as a means to do harm, but its origins are based on that. Its spread began somewhere around 2002, and there have been developed a lot of means to protect users from this sort of threat.

The Basic Types

There are four basic types of spyware known today. These are: Trojans, adware, tracking cookies and most importantly – system monitors. All of them have in time developed their own categories due to the huge amount of threats today, so the only truly essential form to be considered spyware, are the monitors.
what is spyware

Method of Operation

Basically, spyware works in the following way – it allows various entities, most commonly hackers, to keep track of how users use their computers and network. There are a lot of legitimate entities, which promote the use of spyware or their daily operations. Various retailers will provide spyware programs along with their own products, so that they can monitor how users use their internet connection. This information is then used in order to promote various advertisements within the browser of the infected user. There are also various companies, which employ spyware programs. The most common type of spyware used in this situation, is the keylogger. This program keeps track of the input in the user’s computer. That way the owners of the company can keep track of how their employees spend time during working hours.

However, spyware is used for a vast majority of illicit activities as well. It is employed mostly by hackers, who would like to steal money from users. Keyloggers for instance keep track of all passwords and recorded information within the system. This helps individuals with unclear intentions to monitor the financial activity of the victim as well. Many have found their bank accounts emptied after a spyware program has stolen the passwords they use for their online banking account.

Means of Entry

There is a multitude of entry points through which spyware on a system can originate. This does not necessarily have to take place in the same way that a worm enters your system. Hackers have made a habit of placing their programs alongside the installer packages for legitimate software. That way, when a user decides to download and install a freeware application, they might end up installing a spyware application as well. Other means of entry can include various files attached to spam e-mails, or files transferred through p2p connections.
what is spyware

The War Against Spyware

There has been an ongoing war with spyware around the world. Being classified as some of the most dangerous threats in the online community, these programs have stirred up some noise. This has made way for a whole industry. There are numerous companies, which opened doors just to provide the best possible solution for spyware threats. Their products work in a way very similar to common antivirus software packages, but they target spyware alone. Most of them are paid, but there are still quite a few that are completely free for the end user. Anyone seeking a means for protection however should be careful, because there are many rogue antivirus programs disguised as spyware protection systems.

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