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Types of Spyware

Caution Computer Spyware

Basically any software that obtains information from your computer without your knowledge can be termed as a spyware. There are many types of spyware doing the rounds on the Internet, but in technical terms, you can classify them into two broad categories namely, Domestic Spyware and Commercial Spyware.

Domestic Spyware: These are usually software programs that are installed by users themselves with the purpose of monitoring activity on their computers. Businesses often use these types of software systems to keep a tab on what exactly their employees are doing. Parents and guardians also use these to monitor and record the online activities of their children.

These may however also be installed by third parties in order to extract information without the knowledge of the computer owner. To monitor criminal activity, law enforcement agencies have often used these types of software programs. Not to be left behind are the criminals themselves who often use these for stealing personal information from private computers.

Commercial Spyware: These types of software systems are often used by third parties to monitor and record your browsing behavior. The main intention is to track your online habits and sell the gathered information to anyone who might be interested. It is often online businesses that buy this information and use it to hit you with targeted advertising, i.e. advertisements that relate to your usual Internet browsing habits.

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Advertisers often use commercial spyware simply because it is far simpler and economical than collecting information through legal means such as contests, questionnaires, registration surveys and the likes. It is also because information gathered by spyware is far more reliable since it represents your true browsing behavior. You can take your pick while filling out an online registration form, but you just cannot cheat a spyware because it simply monitors and records all your activities.

How Does Spyware Invade My Computer?

Spyware, especially those that are designed for other more sinister purposes such as password hacks and identity thefts, usually install automatically on your computer if you happen to click on a malicious link or when you might download uncertified stuff from the Internet. These are often quite difficult to detect and remove from your computer. So, if you want to avoid such unwanted software programs and learn more about all the different types that can compromise your privacy, then just keep reading.

Internet URL Loggers and Screen Recorders

Classified as domestic spyware, these software programs basically monitor and record your online activities. The URL loggers record each and every webpage that you might visit whereas screen recorders take snapshots of your screen every time it might happen to change.

Chat Loggers and Email Recorders

These are also classified as domestic spyware systems. Chat loggers make a duplicate copy of all chat sessions whereas email recorders do the same with each and every incoming and outgoing email.

Key Loggers and Password Recorders

Key loggers and password recorders are often used by hackers to record each and every key entry that you may make using your keyboard. So, if such a spyware is installed on your system, there will always be the risk that someone out there will get to know what all passwords you are using.

Web Bugs

These are not as sinister as key loggers or password recorders, but they are still a nuisance because they generate pop-ups quite too often whenever you perform a specific action such as typing something in the search box. The most irritating thing is that pop-up ads might continue to appear on your screen even when you may not be connected to the Internet.

Browser Hijacking

These types of spyware systems work by placing Internet shortcuts on your Favorites Folder without asking for your permission first. The basic aim is to boost traffic stats of the intended websites, something that eventually helps these websites to command higher advertising rates and revenues. The logic is that either you or other users will accidentally click on the shortcuts, which will then keep increasing the number of hits on the intended website.

Changing settings in the Internet Options may take care of some of these spyware systems, but more often than not you might have to go to the registry and delete them directly. However, in case you have a highly malicious type that resets itself every time your computer reboots, then you might have to reformat your hard drive or utilize a good anti-spyware software program.

Modem Hijacking

You are at a risk from these types of spyware programs, if in case you happen to use a telephone modem to access the Internet. These spyware systems work by installing an online dialer, which then creates a new Internet connection using costly 900-type long distance phone numbers. Most of these usually get automatically installed on your computer when you click on unsolicited mails in your inbox. These may not steal your Internet banking password, but they can still act as equally lethal because they are most likely to inflate your telephone bills, way beyond your wildest imagination.

PC Hijacking

Hackers often use these types of spyware systems to take complete control of a private computer connected to the Internet. The targets are usually those having high-speed Internet connection since the primary aim is to use the host’s IP address to send thousands of spam mails. The victims are often unaware and come to only when they start receiving complaints about spam mails being send from their IP address.

Trojans and Viruses

Trojans and viruses often work together to capture your personal information and send it over to third parties. A Trojan in itself is quite harmless, but since it can be used to transport a malicious virus or other spyware without getting detected by the installed anti-virus program, you should always keep your eyes open for such software programs. Opting for a good anti-spyware software utility is the right thing to do under these circumstances.

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