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The Danger of Spyware


Unprotected Windows-based computers, particularly those used by children or credulous adults, can rapidly accumulate a great many spyware components. The consequences of a moderate to severe spyware infection (privacy issues aside) generally include a substantial loss of system performance (over 50% in extreme cases), and major stability issues (crashes and hangs). Difficulty in connecting to the Internet also commonly occurs.

As of 2004, spyware infection causes more visits to professional computer repairers than any other single cause. In more than half of these cases, the user has no awareness of spyware and initially assumes that the system performance, stability, and/or connectivity issues relate to hardware, Windows installation problems, or a virus. (On the other hand, older versions of Windows itself, as well as CPU undercooling, can manifest spyware-like symptoms.)

Some spyware products have additional consequences. Stealth dialers attempt to connect directly to a particular telephone number rather than to the user's own ISP: where connecting to the number in question involves long-distance or overseas charges, this can result in massive telephone bills which the user has no choice but to pay.

A few spyware vendors, notably 180 Solutions, have created what the New York Times has dubbed "stealware" - spyware applications that redirect affiliate links to major online merchants such as eBay and Dell, effectively hijacking the commissions that the affiliates would have expected to earn in the process. [2] (http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/180-affiliates/)

Some other types of spyware (Targetsoft, for example) even go to the extent of modifying system files to make themselves harder to remove. (Targetsoft modifies the Winsock (Windows Sockets) files. The deletion of the spyware-infested file inetadpt.dll will result in interrupting normal networking usage.)

Related Topics
Firewalls Basics
Adware, spyware and malware
Spyware and viruses
Virtual private network
How To Choose A Fire Wall Software Program


This article is from Wikipedia.org. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.