Spyware - Wow! Spying? Can your computer REALLY be spying on you? Well, do not break out the tinfoil hats, but the answer is yes! Little things can run in the background tracking your activities and reporting them back to others. This could be to send you targeted advertisements while you surf the web. If the spyware notices you spend a lot of time on sites looking for shoes you will run the risk of getting athlete’s foot from all the shoe-related ads appearing while simply surfing the web! This may seem safe enough, or even helpful.
However, sometimes the software can take it further. Some spyware can do something called “key logging”. In this instance, your key strokes are recorded for delivery to another party. This can reveal things such as passwords or personal messages. Let that sink in for a moment! Wow! Could someone really get a copy of everything I type on my computer? Yes, they can.
Spyware can also redirect your Internet browsing. This helps the malicious person direct you to the information THEY want you to see. This may be to sell their items. It could be to redirect you to infect your computer with more malicious software. As this continues, you can literally see your computer slow to a crawl.
Spyware is also capable of taking control of your computer. Wait? What? Take CONTROL of your computer? Yes! There are ways that someone can harvest your resources for their own gain. They could then use your computer to send out their information and attempt to infect others. By infecting your computer, you could be added to a remote-controlled group of computers used for criminal activities. This is referred to as a “Bot Net”, referring to the robotic control of your computer, along with others, across the Internet.
(FYI: This article is reprinted from my book, "Don't Throw IT, Get to Know IT (A Computer Guide for the Technically Challenged)" - Wiltz Cutrer)