What is Spyware?

Spyware - What is Spyware?

What Is Spyware, Anyway?

Spyware is software or a software configuration that gathers information about a person or organization without permission or knowledge. Spyware does this often by just peeking, but other times, it spies by changing the configuration of the victim’s computer.

An information collector

Spyware can collect information from a user’s computer and periodically transmit it to a specific location - usually a server someplace. The method used to collect information may be a built-in feature of the Web browser, a downloaded ActiveX control, a Web browser plug-in, or a standalone executable program.

The type of information collected by spyware may include the following:

An information transgressor

Spyware can alter information on a user’s computer, such as the browser’s default home page, search page, and the HOSTS file (a text file that contains the IP addresses corresponding to specific host names).

Among the types of spyware that change information on your computer is scumware, which is a term describing browser plug-ins that alter the appearance of Web sites, often substituting the Web site’s banner ads with its own ads. A Web site might include a banner ad that takes viewers to the Web site owner’s Amazon.com affiliate pages, for instance, but the scumware inserts its own banner ads (and those of its advertisers) in place of those that the Web site intended the viewer to see.

Scumware also creates hyperlinks within the text of Web pages that take users to advertisers’ pages. For instance, a user may be viewing a Web site for a local merchant. The scumware inserts hyperlinks on certain keywords on the merchant’s page (as viewed by the user whose PC has the scumware installed) that lead the viewer away from the merchant’s site, perhaps leading to competing Web sites. Usually an ActiveX control, scumware alters the content of a Web page, and it does so by changing (in real time) how the user’s browser displays the page.

Article ID: 52
Created: Wed, Jun 27, 2012
Last Updated: Thu, Jul 5, 2012
Author: Michelle Mangum

Online URL: https://itskb.heifer.org/article.php?id=52