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What are spyware, key loggers, and adware?

What are spyware, key loggers, and adware?

Spyware
Spyware is a program installed on your computer, usually without your explicit knowledge, that captures and transmits personal information or Internet browsing habits and details to companies. Companies use this information to analyze browsing habits, to gather marketing data, and to sell your information to others.

Most people do not choose to have spyware installed on their computers; however, companies often piggyback their programs with other popular software such as file-sharing applications.

Some programs let you choose whether to install the spyware programs, while others install them automatically and only mention it in the End-User License Agreement (EULA). Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not read the EULA and simply accept the installation.

Often, when you install a free or advertising-supported program, spyware either installs on your computer, or you are asked if you want to install it as part of several other supporting programs. Sometimes you must choose a Custom or Advanced installation to access the option for not installing the spyware programs.

If you view a web site and you are prompted to install a program, accepting the installation can download spyware. Some programs resemble spyware because they transmit personal information back to the IP source. These companies appear to provide a desirable service to their patrons in the hope that individuals value the program more than their privacy.

Key Loggers
Key logger programs try to capture and steal your passwords and watch and record everything you do on your computer.

Adware
Adware programs typically display blinking advertisements or pop-up windows when you perform a certain action. Adware programs are often installed in exchange for another service, such as the right to use a program without paying for it.

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