Software that monitors your activity on the Internet, "spying" on you. They are bad things, slowing down your computer, spending your processing power and memory on programs that are useless to you, and may potentially transmit private data such as address, phone number, Social Security Number, etc.
You may have spyware on your computer now and be unaware as users are rarely informed that their normal software includes spyware.
Research firm Aberdeen Group has recently released a report claiming there are approximately 7000 different spyware programs
- One of the most annoying problems in modern computing.
- Almost universally hated along with viruses and spam.
- Can be a security hazard, creating backdoors on your computer that allow you to be attacked.
How do I get it?
If you are on a shared computer, others may have installed programs or visited Web sites that proposed installation of spyware programs. Some shareware or freeware has spyware programs included to help pay for development costs.
- Always say no if Internet Explorer pops up a window that says "do you want to install" unless it is a program that you specifically want. Avoid using Internet Explorer.
- Download from Web sites that give full and accurate listings of software contents. Do not take a developers word on it or download direct from the Web site. Jumbo.com, ZDNet and others provide a service of looking for spyware and adware.
How do I get rid of it?
Why does it exist?
It is often included in software to help pay for development costs. The spyware sends useful information to the developer that can be sold to advertisers and market researchers.
Which software has it?
Spyware is included in many programs available today including many file sharing programs. Some of the guilty parties:
- KaZaA - very large file sharing network. The licensed KaZaA clone Grokster also contains spyware. See: Kazaalite, a spyware-free version.
- BearShare - powerful closed-source Gnutella client with many optimizations and useful features.
- anything by [ Brilliant Digital]
- iMesh - Similar to Napster (central server), intelligent resuming, no chat, IM features. Hosted in Israel.
- LimeWire - (Java) - the "free" version contains spyware, but the program is open source and there are several spyware-free versions
Some known spyware components are:
- Gator - Note: as if they weren't evil enough already, Gator is legal action against those who refer to them as "Spyware." They request to be called "Adware" but are lotted under this subheading for our own convenience.
- Brilliant Digital