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Home FAQs Spyware How can Spyware end up in my computer?

How can Spyware end up in my computer?

Spyware is normally installed through either one of two common methods. The first is to hide a spy-ware component within an otherwise apparently useful program. Often, the containing program is made available for download free of charge, so as to encourage wide uptake of the spy-ware component.

The second common method is to take advantage of security flaws in Internet Explorer. Sometimes they arrive as an automatic download from a website you are surfing. Spyware can also be installed on a computer by a virus or an e-mail Trojan program, but this is not common.

The HTTP cookie (e.g. a packet of information) is a well-known mechanism for storing information about an Internet user on their own computer, often used to assign website visitors an individual identification number for subsequent recognition. However, the existence of cookies and their use is generally not concealed from users, who can also disallow access to cookie information. Nevertheless, to the extent that a Web site uses a cookie identifier to build a profile about the user, who does not know what information is added to this profile, the cookie mechanism could be considered a form of spy-ware.

For example, a search engine website could assign a user an individual ID the first time he visits and store all search terms in a database with this ID as a key on all subsequent visits (until the cookie expires or is deleted). This data could be used to select advertisements to display to that user, or could legally or illegally be transmitted to third parties.

Another cause is granting permission for web-based applications to integrate into your system. These "browser helper" object embeds itself as part of your web browser.

Spyware is usually installed by some stealthy means. If you read the user agreements for the software you download and install, references (sometimes vague) are cited for allowing the issuing company of the software to record your Internet usage and website surfing. Some software vendors allow you to buy the same product without this overhead.