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Anti-Spyware: Knowledge and Software for the Home PC by Nicolle Johnson on 11/01/06

It only takes a moment and you do not know until it is too late, if even then. While you are checking your email or looking up a website, a silent predator is downloaded onto your computer to watch your every move. OnGuard Online, a multimedia Internet safety campaign run by the Federal Trade Commission, defines spyware as “software installed on your computer without your consent to monitor or control your computer use.” As easily as that, your privacy is invaded, your PC is slowly grinding to a halt, and you are left wondering what happened and what you can do about it. According to a 2004 survey by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance, 91% of users questioned were familiar with the term spyware. Only 53% believed their computers were infected, but a scan found that 80% of their PCs had some type of spyware installed on them.

Following the scan the participants were shown a list of the known spyware found on their computers. 89% did not know the programs were there, 90% had no idea what they are or what they do, and 95% did not give their authorization for the spyware to be installed. The average number of spyware components per computer was 93 with one computer having well over a thousand. In order to understand how these numbers can be so high, it is necessary to first understand how spyware attacks.

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