“Spyware is a type of malware that specifically threatens the
confidentiality of information. It gathers information about a user
through an Internet connection without his or her knowledge.
Spyware is sometimes bundled as a hidden component of freeware
or shareware programs that users download from the Internet,
similar to a Trojan horse. Spyware can also spread via peer-to-
peer file swapping. Spyware has been around since the late 1990’s,
but increased in popularity after 2000. The rapid growth of the
Internet enabled attackers to collect useful information from
more and more unsuspecting users.

Once installed, spyware monitors user activity on the Internet. Spyware can also
gather information such as e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card
numbers. The spyware can relay this data to the author of the spyware. The author
might use the data simply for advertising or marketing purposes, but could employ
it to facilitate identity theft.

In addition to stealing information, spyware steals from users by using their Internet
bandwidth to transmit this information to a third party, as well as by consuming their
computers’ memory resources. Computers running multiple spyware programs often
run noticeably more slowly than clean computers. Furthermore, because spyware uses
memory and other system resources, it can cause system instability or even crashes.
Because spyware exists as independent executable programs, it can perform a number
of operations, including the following:

•Monitoring keystrokes
•Scanning f les on the hard drive
•Snooping other applications, such as chat programs or word processors
•Installing other spyware programs
•Reading cookies
•Changing the default home page on the Web browser.”(Kim and Solomon, 2012)

Resources:

Kim, D. and Solomon, M. (2012). Fundamentals of Information System Security, Jones & Bartlett Learning.
eText: ISBN-10 1-4496-4248-9

 

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