In the simplest terms, spyware
does exactly what its name implies. It 'spies'
on your PC, Spyware is any software, which on
entering your PC, uses your internet connection
to transmit information to its parent website,
That information can range from your surfing
habits to the sort of banners you are most
likely to click on. The parent website is
usually an advertising company, or a website
which sells your private information to one.
There am numerous ways through
which spywam can enter your PC. Spywam is
usually bundled with some free software
(freeware) that you download from the internet.
It begins to store and transmit your private
information to its parent website the minute you
install and run the accompanying freeware.
However, spyware does not get uninstalled when
you decide to discontinue your use of the
freeware, It stays right there. Of course, not
all freeware is spyware, but a fair amount is.
Apart from freeware, another type of software
known as adware is also the source of spyware.
Adware refers to software that is free for use,
but supports advertising to remain free. Once
installed, most adware can easily send your
information to the advertising website/company
that is supporting it. According to the adware
distributors, the resultant revenue helps keep
the software free.
Generally, there are five types
1) Adware Networks: This
form of spyware is well supported by
advertisements. These advertisers pay people who
publish games and music software per download.
These software feature ads of those
companies/websites and feed them information
about the user who downloaded the applications.
2) Stalking Horses: Spyware presented to
the user at the time of installation of any
software, as useful add-ons.
3) Trojan Horses: A mixture of adware
with at least one stalking horse makes a Trojan
horse. KaZaA Media Desktop is one notorious
4) Backdoor Santas: This comes bundled
with the software, but is usually not supported
5) Cookies: Not your regular delicious
eatables, they refer to small files on your
computer, which are placed by certain websites.
These files contain vital information about your
PC. If misused by any website, it can easily be
tracked by third-party advertisers or spyware
No matter which type you have,
once spyware is well inside your PC, it acts as
tracking software ("spyware agent") and uses
your internet connection as a back channel to
feed advertisers your private information. The
different types of spyware agents can do a lot
more than just that. Pawas.com has recognized
five types of spyware agents:
1) Malware: It can easily modify your
system settings, causing your PC to perform
2) Hijacker: It attacks your browser's
homepage and resets it to the advertiser's
3) Dialer: This agent dials different
websites and you get billed for it.
4) Trojan Horse: This causes your system
to perform unwanted tasks.
5) Collectware: This, as the name
implies, collects information about your surfing
Spyware isn't a problem that can
be easily ignored. You may think that there is
nothing whatsoever on your PC that would be of
interest to any advertiser. But remember,
spyware can still make your internet life very
miserable because of the following:
a) Increased spam: There
is no limit to the number of advertisers who may
receive your e-mail address to add to their spam
mailing list. After all, the people behind the
spyware earn millions selling your email
address. And if junk e-mail isn't annoying, I
don't know what is.
b) Increased popup windows: The
advertisers have a field day targeting you with
ads they think you'd be interested in.
c) Resets browser homepage: Spyware can
cause your default homepage setting in internet
Explorer to change from your settings to the
hijackers' settings. Even if you manually change
the IE's default homepage setting, it will
simply revert back once you restart your PC. And
trust me, the websites set by the hijackers to
be your default homepage can be pretty annoying.
d) Scans your browsing history and temporary
internet files: It does so to obtain more
information about your browsing habits.
e) Installs executable files without your
knowledge: Even when you uninstall the
parent software, the spyware remains firmly in
place on your PC. Executable files also ensure
that your homepage remains hijacked.
f) Infiltrates: Makes it easier for
hackers to infiltrate your PC and gain access to
passwords and credit card information.
g) Sends information to other spyware
programs: Spyware makes your PC vulnerable
to other spyware and adware networks, which can
easily find a way into your PC, infesting it
with unwanted software even more.