Being an expert in computer security, one of the most common questions I’m asked is “What is spywear?” If you’re one of these people then please read on. It is very important to be aware of this software and the threat it poses to you and your computer.
Spywear in its most basic form is software that you don’t want on your PC. There are more technical terms for the various types of software that you don’t want on your computer. For example, viruses. However, spywear is not a virus. But they are both types of software you don’t want on your computer. As far as a home user is concerned that is all you really need to know.
Another important aspect of this unasked for software that separates it from other types is that it is almost always installed so that you had no idea you installed it. Sometimes this is done by backdoor access to your PC, other times you get forced to install it before you can install what you originally wanted to install.
You can tell the primary purpose of spywear just by looking at the name. It is made to “spy” on you. It is made by people who want to know personal information about you. This could be something like your internet browsing patterns and in some cases even your credit card number!
Another thing this stuff can do is take over you computer temporarily by getting it to do things you never asked it to do. This gets really bad when the software is designed to install even more bad things onto your system!
A good way to tell if you have it is to check your installed programs list in control panel. If you see things you never installed that are not related to any of your other software then it is probably is bad for your computer.
To fight the war on spywear, there is a huge industry making anti-spyware software packages. Most computer savvy users know of this software and feel it is common practice for computer security to run it regularly.