Spyware Software Explained - a Basic Overview

by : Dave Page

You may have heard the term 'spyware' and people saying that you need to take every precaution to avoid it; plus that it can also be really difficult removing spyware from your computer. Naturally, when you think of spyware, one of the first things that probably enters into your mind is someone invading your privacy - spying on you. In a technological sense, that is exactly what is happening. There has been such a proliferation of spyware recently that it is not something that should be taken lightly or ignored.

If you are not completely sure what spyware is, it can be defined as a type of software that is used by individuals or companies to gain access to information about you. Whether it is your surfing habits or your private information that is being monitored, spyware is an invasion of your privacy. In many instances, spyware will also change the configuration of your computer, causing it to behave strangely.

Though people normally use spyware for malicious purposes, it is many times installed on your computer with your consent. When you download many of the readily available 'freeware' programs, often you get more than you anticipated. Most times, this situation can be avoided by simply taking a moment to read the user agreement. It is often clearly stated that you agree to install third party software along with the free software.

Sometimes, though, the user agreement may not state that you are downloading third party software so it is also important to carefully read stipulations on the site where you download the software. Also, you should never download software from anyplace other than the original site or a trusted source. If you download software from a torrent site, you are virtually asking for your computer to be infected with spyware.

Spyware can cause all types of problems for your system. Your operating system files may be damaged or the resources may be overloaded, which can cause your computer's performance to slow down dramatically. Plus, certain types of spyware make it very easy for someone to steal your identity. While some companies simply want to spy on your surfing habits to improve sales demographics, the intentions of other abusers of spyware are not so transparent.

One of the most common types of spyware simply displays unwanted advertisements based on your surfing habits. Other more obtrusive types of spyware will hijack your browser's start page and add unneeded components to your system which may cause your computer to crash. Some of the most malicious types of spyware take control of your computer and use it as part of a network to gain control of other computers containing sensitive data.

One of the most important things to understand about keeping your computer free from spyware is that you should have a complete understanding of exactly what you are installing on your computer before completing the install. Read all enclosures and agreements carefully and only download software from trusted sites. If you follow these basic guidelines, you will have a much easier job preventing spyware from taking over control of your computer.