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Types of Spyware
Spyware includes programs that can record what you do on your computer and share that information with a stranger via the internet connection. Some can watch and record your web surfing habits.
Some log everything you type. Spyware can also capture user ID's and Passwords. It might have the ability to see where you have been on the web. if there's information on your computer that is of interest to someone and can make them a little money, there's probably a spyware program to capture it.
The motivation to spy this way can be criminal (capturing information for identity theft perhaps) but most often it's commercial in nature. A company wants to understand you better so it can trigger customized ads or analyze your behaviour and sell that marketing data.
Adware is equally annoying because it not only spies on you, but then it shows you ads. Some adware spies on you because its mission is to show you ads customized to your tastes, usually via pop-up ads on your computer's desktop.
Sometimes adware is a legitimate part of a free program. Software publishers often bundle adware in the free programs they offer, using it as a revenue source. Many warn you of the adware during installation in the End User License Agreement, also referred to as an EULA.
In a computer, the EULA is that scrollable box of text we look at that we all have to agree to before we can install a software package. The EULA's legalese often says that in return for use of the program for free, you must allow the installation of the adware. This is always overlooked as most of us don't even you look at the Terms & Conditions of a free software before install it, even I've done it in the past, but not now, I always look, takes longer but better safe than sorry.
Snoopware watches your computer habits on behalf of someone else, usually someone you know. This can include parental monitoring software like Net Nanny for instance, these parental monitoring programs are designed to track children's computer habits.
Employers might install snoopware to keep and eye on employee computer habits to ensure they're not spending too much time on the internet which is not work related.
4. Browser Hijackers
Browser hijackers are perhaps the most malicious spyware programs because they are so hard to remove. When you first open your web browser your home page pops open. Most people I know set this to Google, a news site, or their favourite web page.
Browser hijackers override this setting and reset a browser's homepage to one of their choosing, usually a commercial web page. Your probably asking yourself why?, well, the link to the web page they set can be something called an affiliate link. The hijacker's author makes money when you are sent to the affiliates link.
Nasty isn't it just thinking about it. Sometimes the web page you are directed to contains further affiliated links. Money is earned from affiliate links if you click and buy something or sometimes if you simply just click the link.
Browser hijackers are a legitimate way for many web content publishers to make income. Unfortunately, its also a revenue source for spyware makers as well.
Often browser hijackers direct you to a webpage that looks like search sites such as google or yahoo. The most famous browser hijackers are ones that redirect to a website called Cool Web Search. The worst hijacker offenders are referred to generically as CWS hijacks This type of spyware can be extremely difficult to remove.
Webroot, an anti-spyware software maker, lists CoolWebSearch or CWS as its top spyware threat on the net today. The hijacker program works by initially setting your browser to the homepage it wants. If you reset it, the hijacker's codes runs and resets the homepage again the next time your computer restarts or your browser is reopened. Very frustrating as it has happend to myself too. Removing a browser hijacker requires a piece of software (CW Shredder) which can be downloaded from my Treasure Chest to remove it or you may have to go right into windows registry to remove them manually, something I don't recommend if you don't know what your doing.
6. Key Loggers
Key loggers can either be hardware or software. The software versions run secretly in a computers memory and capture everything typed into a computer. It then saves it for later analysis by a third party.
A key logger can also be a piece of hardware this attached between a computers keyboard and its keyboard port. Sometimes Trojan horses install software key loggers and then give access to the computer to someone on the internet so they can fetch the log file containing the captured date remotely.