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Threats Against Privacy: Spyware

Spyware threats are not something that should be taken lightly. Even though many people do not know much about spyware or realize that they might have it on their computers, spyware can be a serious problem. Spyware can impair the proper functioning of your computer, cause things to happen that you do not authorize, watch where you go and what you do on your computer, and more. Because spyware is placed on your computer without your consent when visiting certain websites, it is essentially an invasion of privacy. Although some spyware is legitimate and causes no harm to the computer, other spyware can be quite malicious and result in a series of problems that can be difficult to correct.

Spyware Threats and Problems

Spyware threats first stem from the fact that spyware is harder to prevent than traditional viruses. With growing concerns over computer security, computer experts recommend that computer users have both anti-virus software and anti-spyware programs in order to protect their systems from harmful invasions. However, studies have shown that properly up-dated anti-virus software is often 100% effective in preventing viruses, while anti-spyware programs are only about 90% effective. The first spyware threat, then, is being unable to completely control whether or not you are affected by spyware.

Other spyware threats result from the way spyware operates. Spyware is not self-contained or identifiable like viruses. The only way to know that spyware exists is to find traces that remain after the spyware itself has run and gone. Finding it, then, requires careful analysis of before and after reports that reveal slight changes. Spyware is dangerous and problematic because it can record the actions of your computer, it can cause changes to files, and it can slow down computer performance or result in other glitches.

Although there are many different kinds of spyware threats, there are some that are more problematic or frequently seen than others. Here are the top ten: CoolWebSearch, Gator (or GAIN, an adware program), 180search Assistant (delivers pop-up ads), ISTbar/AUpdate (toolbar for porn sites), Transponder (vx2), Internet Optimizer (redirects web pages), Blaze Find, Hot as Hell (dials expensive numbers for porn sites), Advanced Keylogger (takes screen shots), and TIBS logger. The best way to protect yourself against spyware is to be informed about the dangers out there, have as much anit-virus and anti-spyware protection as possible, and support your lawmakers in passing anti-spyware legislation.

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