Not everyone knows what spyware is, but it is imperative that you know because your personal information may be at risk. These are malicious programs that use your Internet connection to collect information in your computer and send it to another one without your consent.
Information at Risk
These programs can get your name and address, and also learn what you download, the sites you browse and anything and everything you do on the Internet. These programs can do different things. Some are going to hijack your browser and bring you to a website, or it can replace the home page on your browser.
Some of these programs will force your computer to dial costly 900 numbers or bombard your computer with ads even when you are not on the Internet. Programs that install ads in your system are called adware.
Some applications with spyware actually disclose the information in an attempt to make it look legal. However, the details are stated in the EULA (end user license agreement) which is full of terse and technical terms users don’t usually read. Because it is bundled with legitimate software, users do not take notice of them.
Web Based Spyware
Some of these malware (malicious software) are not always bundled with software. In fact some of them can sneak into your computer via the web. For example, you might go to a website and a window will appear telling you that the site won’t run properly unless you install a plug-in or file. If you click yes, the website will load the malware into your computer. Without your knowing, the program is already there.
The Dangers and Risks
The difficulty with these programs is whether they are disclosed or not, is you cannot track or verify what data it is stealing. It does not have a mechanism that allows you to assess the process and there are no checks and balances. Not only is the information being collected without your permission, but you have no idea what they are going to do with it or to whom it will be given to. In other words, there are no regulations here.
You will also discover that these applications use up a lot of system resources; your computer will slow down because it will use up your RAM, disk space and processing power. It will consume a lot of bandwidth, costing you money.
Signs of Spyware Infection
Your computer will slow down because the malware is running numerous programs and taking up memory. You will also notice ads popping up even if you are not on the Internet. If you click on a link to go to one site, you will instead end up in another.
Your computer may dial numbers on its own accord, resulting in a higher phone bill. Malware may also change your bookmarks, and you won’t be able to use search engines. You will also receive ads that address you by name even if you have never been there before.
When you study what spyware is, remember that you not only get them from “suspicious” looking programs, but even media players and file sharing applications. The best way to deal with this is to have an antispyware program. You must also not install any plug-ins that you do not know or understand.