As the old saying goes “Information is wealth” and especially in times where online advertising is considered the best marketing strategy, businesses would resort to extremes to gather information about Internet users.
Spyware are applications that you would probably download without understanding their implications – they send out information to other computers without your authorization about your browsing habits, downloaded files and even your personal information like your name and address.
Spyware could come bundled with some other application or they may serve a different purpose.
They may even come packaged as a single application like Kazaa or Real Player with their Terms and conditions clearly stating that they provide your information to their parent companies. While these may not have severe effects on your computer or your browsing experience, there are different kinds of spyware which are worse.
They may hijack your browser or even your whole computer and redirect you to their own websites. If you have a phone line connected, they may even attempt to dial expensive 900 numbers. Sometimes, they come packaged with HTML codes which may work even when you’re offline.
The million dollar question is – how do these spyware get into your system? Your browsing experience takes you to a thousand different websites and one of them may have a multitude of popup windows. You might have clicked on one of them which said “This website may not display correctly until you install a plug-in”.
That is where your spyware came from. Sometimes, spyware can also install in the background without your knowledge. Spyware cannot be seen unless you have an anti-spyware program monitoring your Internet activity. The thing about spyware applications is that they serve their own purpose to their marketers by using your computer’s memory, processor and your Internet bandwidth.
If your computer crawls all the time and takes time to open processes, pops up advertisements even when you’re offline and even redirects you to another website every time you try opening a website. Your bookmarks have changed and there are illegitimate processes running in the background every time you open the Task Manager. This is when you should realize that you need an anti-spyware application to clean your computer.