Spyware is software that installs components on a computer for the purpose of recording Web surfing habits (primarily for marketing purposes). Spyware sends this information to its author or to other interested parties when the computer is online. Spyware has become the most costly form of malware in terms of time and money spent in data recovery.

Spyware often downloads with items identified as ‘free downloads’ and does not notify the user of its existence or ask for permission to install the components. The information spyware components gather can include user keystrokes, which means that private information such as login names, passwords, credit card numbers, and other confidential information can be recorded and transmited to third parties.

Spyware programs are commercially produced for the purpose of gathering information about computer users, and although not classified as viruses or trojan horses, these programs, can still negatively affect the performance of computers and introduce significant security risks to any network; often performing a variety of undesired and threatening actions such as irritating pop-up windows, logging user key strokes, and exposing computer vulnerabilities to attack.

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