The Spyware Battle: Privacy vs. Profits
How to handle the removal of spyware
In most cases, spyware is more an annoyance than it is a cause for alarm – the vast majority of spyware falls under the “grayware” category, and is utilized by advertisers to divert a user’s Web browser to different Web sites, which trigger pop-up ads targeting a Web user’s known profile based on their prior Web searches, browsing, on-line purchases and other information. Most end users find this type of grayware to be an invasive form of data gathering. A commonly heard concern over such grayware is the unwanted interruptions and associated loss of computer productivity. Furthermore, there are serious privacy concerns relating to what can be done with a user’s personal data once it has been monitored and collected. Personal data collected by grayware can be sent over the Internet where it may be sold or distributed to others.
Generally speaking, in addition to the nuisance of the pop-up ads, browser hijacks, and the breach of user privacy inherent in spyware, another major negative effect of these programs is the system slowdown they cause. According to Ed English, Vice President and Chief Security Strategist at anti-virus and content security firm Trend Micro, “These ill effects can be significant. On a system with a good deal of spyware/adware installed – there can be dozens of programs on a single system – pop-up ads can be seemingly relentless, and system performance can be brought to its knees.” Mr. English adds, “Oftentimes grayware is loaded onto a user’s machine with neither the user’s permission, nor their clear knowledge.”