Spyware is one of the most common types of malware in circulation. As its name suggests, this type of program is designed to snoop on users’ activity, especially when they are connected to the Internet. As any kind of spyware essentially compromises the confidentiality of data stored on a computer, it is considered a potential threat that needs to be dealt with.These applications collect and send out information about the websites most frequently visited by users, the connection time, etc. Similarly, they can capture data about the computer on which they are installed: operating system, processor, memory, etc. There are even spy programs that detect and report if software installed on a PC is original or not.These programs have become so widespread, largely due to a set of common characteristics, including:
- Near perfect camouflage techniques. Spyware is usually installed along with other applications: P2P application clients, hard disk utilities, etc.
- Inconspicuous file names, allowing them to go unnoticed along with the rest of the files belonging to an application.
- As they are not viruses and don’t use any routines that can connect them to viruses, antivirus programs don’t detect spyware, unless they have been specially programmed to do so.
- They don’t show any visible symptoms in the computer, neither when they are installed nor when they are running. For this reason, users don’t usually worry about whether these types of applications are installed on their computers or not and as a result, spyware can hide in systems for a long time.