Spyware – What Is It? Why Should You Care?

Not many disagree that the expansion of the internet and technology related to advances with the various aspects of interacting on the internet continues to accelerate at a dizzying pace. As with most advances, with the good side, also comes a not so good – dark side. More than ever, the criminal element continues to make great strides in finding ways to perpetrate mischief, mayhem, and mal-intended scams.

One of the latest growing ways criminals have employed to profit at the expense of unsuspecting internet users is the spread of spyware viruses. Spyware and adware quickly are becoming all too prevalent for anyone. It has become vitally important that everyone take precautions to protect themselves from the malicious effects through the use of virus protection software.

Spyware: What Is It?

By definition, a spyware virus includes a wide variety of virus, some of which are the good kind; some are relatively harmless in nature. For example some spyware programs are “documenters, or scribes” if you will. Their primary purpose is to keep a record of basic information on users’ activities. This can include such things as what websites and other actions you have taken over a period of time. This allows the program to target your IP address with advertisements (many of which are popups) that are related to the theme of the sites you frequent. Giving you what you want, based on where you visit on the internet is the general method for this type of spyware. Again, being a nuisance is the primary offense of this type of virus.

Spyware: Why Should I Care?

Spyware’s “evil cousin” is not so virtuous and clearly much more harmful. These types seek to target financial related information (all personal and private information of course), using the information for criminal purposes. Identity theft is the more common example of this type of spyware virus. The sheer number of attacks, severity of the attacks is growing at alarming rates.

And just when we thought identity theft was bad enough, another type of spyware virus is growing with even more damaging effects. These are essentially key logger programs. This type of spyware is designed to capture highly sensitive data (account numbers and passwords to online banking, financial records, etc.) by recording actual keystrokes by a user on the keyboard. This data is collected and reported back to the author – who in turn uses the information or gives the information to others to undertake criminal actions to steal all they can using this information.

What Can I Do?

By far, the best protection one can use against these kinds of spyware viruses is to obtain (and maintain) a reputable anti virus software program, combined with a good anti spyware program and spyware removal tool. More and more anti virus programs are incorporating spyware detection and removal into their products. However, many still feel that to be 100% safe, it is best to install several different products at once. Of course the best way to keep those spyware viruses off your computer is to run your anti virus software and spyware removal programs: 1) with the option of “real time coverage” whenever possible, and 2) run on a daily basis. Each program will then report back on problems it has found giving users the option of how to handle anything found.

It does not take much thought when you hear the horror stories of unsuspecting internet users who have “lost everything” because of the effects of spyware in its various forms to realize you must be proactive. To ignore the warnings of internet security experts and reports of the damage caused by spyware is truly a formula for disaster. Don’t let yourself be the next victim.


Stephen Wright is President & CEO of InternetMarketingUSA.com

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