What is spyware?

Spyware is a potentially dangerous type of software because it can record your keystrokes, history, passwords, and other confidential and private information.

Spyware is often installed covertly by riding on the back of another seemingly benign application. Spyware covertly gathers your user information and activity without your knowledge. It can record your keystrokes, passwords, credit card numbers, sensitive information, where you surf, chat logs, and can even take random screenshots of your activity.

Some types of spyware use routines that email user activity or post information to the web where the spy can view it at their leisure. Many spyware vendors also use stealth routines and techniques to avoid being detected and removed by popular anti-spyware software. In some cases, spyware known as a “retrospy” will counter-attack anti-spy packages by attempting to disable the program. In addition, they may use routines to re-install the spyware after it has been detected. The most invasive type of spyware is installed on your computer by the user, although usually unknowingly.

Website cookies that collect information are automatically placed on your system depending on your web browser’s security settings. A good general rule to follow is to not install software on your computer that is not required to perform your job functions. It is possible to remove spyware.

How can I protect my computer against spyware?

Make sure to download and install an antivirus application to protect your computer. For a list of recommended antivirus applications that are free to download and install, see the article Recommended antivirus applications.

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