- The defintion of spyware is a software program that secretly gathers personal information and sends it without the user's knowledge from a computer when it is online.
An example of spyware is a adware software program that records a user's keystrokes on online advertisements and reports them to a research or ad firm.
spyware definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Software that secretly gathers information about a person or organization.
- Any malicious software that is designed to take partial or full control of a computer's operation without the knowledge of its user.
spyware - Computer Definition
Software that collects personal information about users and their activities without their knowledge or consent. Spyware uses a number of techniques such as logging keystrokes, recording Internet Web browsing activities, and searching hard drives.Adware is a type of spyware that records such information and forwards it to an advertising agency or market research firm that later uses it to tailor pop-up ads for delivery to users without their knowledge or consent. See also malware.
Covert software that captures data about online users’ Internet surfing habits. Adware, a form of spyware, gathers information to target unsuspecting users with email pop-up ads or other marketing tools.
System administrators are keenly aware that running their desktops while being logged on as an administrator can cause serious security problems. Because administrators have total system authority, any program beginning under this account can perform almost any activity. Recently, spyware pushers have developed means of adding their covert programs to the Windows Firewall’s list of so-called trusted applications. Although trusted applications generally transmit traffic out from the said computer, adding a registry subkey that references the application under the subkey storing trusted applications works only if someone is logged in as an administrator. Administrative accounts should be using sparingly and with caution.
A white paper available from Symantec Security Response outlines various risks affiliated with spyware and adware, cites tests available for discovering spyware, and offers security strategies for dealing with these when discovered. The white paper is at http://enterprisesecurity .symantec.com/content.cfm?articleid=5667.
Edwards, M.J. Windows Firewall: Another Good Reason Not to Login as an Administrator. [Online, February 22, 2005.] Penton Media, Inc. Website. http://list .windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=3E02:4FB69; Symantec. Symantec’s Anti-Spyware Approach. [Online, May 19, 2005.] Symantec Website. http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com/content.cfm? articleid=5667;Won, S. and Avery, S. Computer Hackers Step Up e-Commerce Attacks. The Globe and Mail, September 20, 2004, p. B3.
Software that sends information about your Web surfing habits to its Web site. Often quickly installed in your computer in combination with a free download you selected from the Web, spyware transmits information in the background as you move around the Web. Also known as "parasite software," "scumware," "junkware" and "thiefware," spyware is occasionally installed just by visiting a Web site (see drive-by download). Spyware May Even Identify Itself The license agreement that nobody ever reads may actually state that you are installing spyware and explain what it does. For example, it might say that the program performs anonymous profiling, which means that your habits are being recorded, not you individually. Such software is used to create marketing profiles; for example, people who go to Web site "A" often go to site "B" and so on. Spyware may deliver competing products in real time. For example, if you go to a Web page and look for a minivan, an ad for a competitor's vehicle might pop up (see adware). Spyware Is Focused Merchants place ads with spyware advertisers because they feel their promotions are focused. In fact, many feel that the Internet has opened up the most intelligent marketing system the world has ever seen. Merchants say they are targeting prospects who are really interested in their products, and spyware vendors argue that as long as they treat users anonymously, they are not violating privacy. There are also spyware programs that keep changing the home page in the browser to a particular Web site or just keep popping up ads all the time (see adware). Nevertheless, once you detect spyware, it can be eliminated, albeit with difficulty sometimes. Spyware blockers can detect an invasion of spyware into your computer and have become as popular as antivirus programs. See PUP, spyware blocker, adware, snoopware, parasite, spam and wares.