WHAT IS SPYWARE?

Spyware is any software designed to collect user personal information and send it out through a background Internet connection without the user's knowledge and consent. Spyware silently tracks user's web browsing habits, records visited web sites and logs taken actions. This activity allows spyware vendors to gather data for marketing and advertising purposes.

Spyware form and functionality may vary depending on vendor intentions. However, a particular program that uses an Internet connection to transfer data, which can be used to identify the user, is always classified as spyware.

Some programs mistakenly called spyware actually do not collect any vital information about the user and use a background Internet channel to transfer general statistics. They do not steal your name, contacts or any other details and therefore do not violate your privacy. Lots of legal advertising applications or ad-supported products such as a legitimate web browser Opera fall into this category. Although legal adware programs potentially are able to spy on a user, they shouldn't be accused of privacy violation, as proper use of adware is a legal revenue model for many software companies that allows to distribute complex commercial products for free. Navigate to spyware parasites

Newest Spyware

Zorton Vista Antivirus 2014

November 20th, 2014. What is Zorton Vista Antivirus 2014? Zorton Vista Antivirus 2014 is a malicious program that should never be trusted. No matter that its name suggests that this is a program that could be used for avoiding viruses and other unsafe programs, you should ignore its alerts. We say so... More...

Zorton XP Protection 2014

November 20th, 2014. What is Zorton XP Protection 2014? Zorton XP Protection 2014 is a malicious program that should never be purchased. No matter how trustworthy-looking alerts it shows, it seeks the only thing - to trick PC users into purchasing its fake licensed version. Before it does that,... More...

Zorton XP Antivirus 2014

November 19th, 2014. What is Zorton XP Antivirus 2014? Zorton XP Antivirus 2014 is a seriously dangerous cyber threat that was categorized as rogue anti-spyware. If you are using Windows XP and don't have an updated anti-spyware installed on your computer, you should be extremely careful while browsing on... More...

DATABASE OF Spyware PARASITES

Total Spyware parasites in our DB: 190


# | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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  • Ace ScreenSpy September 30th, 2005 | No Comments
    Ace Screenspy is a commercial computer surveillance program that regularly takes screenshots of user activity....

  • Acext October 7th, 2005 | No Comments
    Acext is a spyware parasite that attempts to track user Internet activity and transfer gathered data to the ww...

  • Adio Registry Optimizer May 21st, 2009 | 1 Comments
    Adio Registry Optimizer is a rogue Windows registry repair software. Usually, it is promoted through the use o...

  • AIM Logger February 19th, 2009 | 1 Comments
    AIM Logger is a commercial spyware program that records all AOL Instant Messenger online conversations. The lo...

  • All-In-One Spy December 20th, 2007 | No Comments
    This commercial spyware is designed for monitoring actions, performed with computer. The program can log keyst...

  • ALSEDI Desktop Adviser February 9th, 2006 | No Comments
    ALSEDI Desktop Adviser is a commercial computer surveillance program that takes screenshots of user activity r...

  • AntiSpyCheck March 3rd, 2012 | 12 Comments
    AntiSpyCheck is rogue security application and although it claims to be spyware scanner as well as spam filter...

  • Antivirus Pro 2009 December 29th, 2008 | No Comments
    Antivirus Pro 2009 is a fake spyware remover program. Application is advertised through the use of trojans tha...

  • Antivirus Security June 30th, 2009 | No Comments
    Antivirus Security is dangerous malware, fake anti-spyware program. This application is just a new variant of ...

  • Antivirus XP 2008 March 19th, 2012 | No Comments
    Antivirus XP 2008 is a new rogue anti-spyware application that is advertised by malicious websites. Everything...

  • Arau August 23rd, 2005 | No Comments
    Arau is a spyware parasite that secretly gathers information about the user and silently transfers it to a pre...

  • Ashlt June 30th, 2005 | No Comments
    This parasite belongs to the spyware category. It is designed to steal user sensitive information and transfer...

  • ASObserver February 10th, 2006 | No Comments
    ASObserver is a commercial computer surveillance program that captures screenshots of user activity at specifi...

  • Atdmt February 23rd, 2011 | 2 Comments
    Atdmt is a low risk tracking cookie that monitors user’s Internet activity or browsing habits and collec...

  • Aurea.653 December 3rd, 2004 | No Comments
    This virus seeks COM files and writes himself in C:\DOS\ catalogue and current catalogue . In 1-st of marc...

  • Belcaro GoldenRetriever December 9th, 2011 | No Comments
    This spyware is designed to collect information about users behaviour. It connects itself to internet, and spi...

  • Bemonitor January 24th, 2007 | No Comments
    Bemonitor is a spyware parasite that logs user keystrokes and collects system information. Gathered data is st...

  • Blackbox June 23rd, 2005 | No Comments
    Blackbox is a spyware, published by cablehead software. Apparently it is a legitimate software that must be in...

  • Boss Watcher v1.0 October 15th, 2008 | No Comments
    Boss Watcher v1.0 is a remote spying tool. It is promoted as a great program to track employers and other peop...

  • Chat Watch September 14th, 2005 | No Comments
    Chat Watch is a commercial spyware application designed especially to record private online chat conversations...

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WAYS OF INFECTION

Spyware parasites differ from regular viruses. They do not spread by themselves and usually must be installed as any other software with or without the user’s consent. Some rare pests are able to exploit system security vulnerabilities and act similarly to worms. There are three major ways undesirable spyware program can get into the system.

1. Many spyware vendors deceive the user by presenting a particular spyware program as a useful tool, for example, a powerful web search service, fast download manager or reliable Internet accelerator. Users download and install such programs. However, practically all of them appear to be either completely useless or ineffective. Although in most cases users can uninstall such programs, spyware components stay in the system and remain fully functional.
2. Lots of free, ad-supported or shareware products are bundled with small add-ons needed by the host program to work properly. These add-ons actually are third-party spyware parasites. Uninstalling the host application not always removes bundled spyware.
3. Most widely spread spyware programs get into the system using Internet Explorer ActiveX controls or exploiting certain web browser vulnerabilities. Their vendors run insecure web sites filled with malicious code or distribute unsafe advertising pop-ups. Whenever the user visits such a site or clicks on such a pop-up, harmful scripts instantly install spyware. The user cannot notice anything suspicious, as parasites do not display any setup wizards, dialogs or warnings.

It is known that some spyware can also be dropped by specific viruses, trojans or worms.

Spyware affects mostly computers running Microsoft Windows operating system.

WHAT SPYWARE DOES?

- Steals sensitive personal information, identity details, monitors everything the user does online, tracks web browsing habits and sends all collected data to a remote server.
- Serves undesirable advertisements, displays large amount of annoying pop-ups. Such activity is specific to most illegal adware parasites.
- Redirects a web browser to advertising sites or commercial Internet search services whenever the user enters an incorrect site address or even without any obvious reasons.
- Changes web browser's default start and search pages to advertising sites and prevents the user from restoring initial settings. Such activity is common for all browser hijackers.
- Creates numerous links to advertising resources, places desktop shortcuts to third-party spyware sites, adds multiple bookmarks to the web browser's Favorites list.
- Modifies essential settings of a web browser, decreases overall system security level by enabling certain web browser's features that allow to quietly run any web scripts or install any software from the Internet.
- Connects a compromised computer to the Internet through high-cost phone number without user knowledge. This activity is specific to so called dialers. The system can be affected only if a modem is installed.
- Degrades overall system performance and causes software instability. Some parasites are badly programmed, they waste too much computer resources and conflict with installed applications.
- Provides no uninstall feature, hides processes, files and other objects in order to obstruct its removal as much as possible.

SPYWARE EXAMPLES

There are thousands of different spyware parasites. The following examples illustrate how treacherous and harmful spyware can be.

CoolWebSearch is the entire family of browser hijackers that all attempt to redirect a web browser to the coolwebsearch.com domain. Most of these threats display advertisements, change web browser's default start and search pages and modify security settings. From the first sight, CoolWebSearch parasites are relatively harmless. However, some variants are able to steal user passwords, bank account details and other identity data. These pests are virtually impossible to remove.

Infamous Gator spyware made the headlines because of its enormous prevalence. Various Gator variants are still bundled with ad-supported software and can get into the system from insecure web sites. Parasites display numerous advertisements and install additional spyware components without user consent. Most of their victims noticed increased frequency of web browser crashes and overall system instability. Practically all Gator variants include parts that stay active even after a user uninstalls the pest.

BonziBuddy spyware is targeted at children. Its description says that the program displays an animated on-screen ape that helps kids to surf the web and use e-mail. However, BonziBuddy also silently installs several additional spyware parasites that not only violate user privacy, but also affect computer’s performance and security.

CONSEQUENCES OF SPYWARE INFECTION

Spyware is not as dangerous as most computer viruses are. It doesn't infect files or destroy the system. But instead it discloses user's priceless personal information to advertisers and even real thieves. Malicious persons use spyware to collect passwords, bank account details or credit card numbers. This information allows them to steal victim's money, use his name, address and other contact data for criminal offences.

Spyware activity gets on user's nerves and even costs money. Not all computer users can easily identify a spyware infection and take required actions immediately. A parasite may stay undetected for months. All this time it will obstruct user’s usual work, download and install third-party risks. Eventually a computer's performance and stability will be greatly reduced and the user will have to take it to professional repairers. There are real examples of depressed users buying new computers, as old ones are totally inoperatable because of numerous spyware parasites installed.

HOW TO REMOVE SPYWARE?

As it was said above spyware parasites are not viruses and therefore cannot be removed with the help of regular antivirus products. To remove such pests special anti-spyware tools (spyware removers) should be used. These programs scan the system in similar way as antivirus software. However, they have special parasite signature databases, which allow them to detect and eliminate most spyware and adware threats. Powerful spyware removers include real-time monitors that prevent the installation of known risks and unauthorized system modification. The most effective and popular anti-spyware programs are Spyware Doctor, Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta, Spybot - Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware SE, SpyHunter, eTrust PestPatrol.

In some cases even a spyware remover can fail to get rid of a particular parasite. That is why there are Internet resources such as 2-Spyware.com, which provide manual spyware removal instructions. These instructions allow the user to manually delete all the files, directories, registry entries and other objects that belong to a parasite. However, manual removal requires fair system knowledge and therefore is a quite difficult task for novices.

Additional resources related to Spyware:

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