Just what *is* Spyware?


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11/18/2008



Just what *is* Spyware?

Kevin R. Smith
Co-Editor


Two terms we often hear bandied about out here in the ol' Interwebnets are: spyware and adware.

We used to take the position that adware meant software that didn't steal personal information or "spy" on your Internet habits (namely by reporting them back to a central server) and that spyware was software that did.

Put another way, adware might generate a ton of annoying popups or change your browser settings and such, but as long as it didn't "spy" on you, either by reporting your browsing habit and/or your personal information back to a central server, it was "just" adware and not spyware, per se.

The lines have definitely blurred though, and drawing a clear distinction between one and the other is nigh impossible.

An article on Microsoft.com asks: What is spyware?

The author of this article says,

Spyware is a general term used to describe software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent first."

Given that this article is (at the time of the writing of our own piece here) +2 years old, we're going to go on record now as saying we agree with this author at Microsoft's definition. 

Whatever the case, one thing is clear: spyware sucks.

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