Spyware

Topics: Computer, Computer program, Computer software Pages: 6 (2042 words) Published: October 12, 2013
Case: Using Technology to Identify Who We are and to Track What We Do

Contents

Summary
After perusing the internet Mr. Anderson’s home laptop started to perform commands on its own, without Mr. Anderson’s input. An ad for Spy-Wiper appeared on his laptop warning him that if he wanted to protect his laptop he had to sign up for the program that would clear his system of any rogue software. When Mr. Anderson arrived at work the following day he discovered that his office computers displayed similar messages from Spy-Wiper. Spy-Wiper was using coercion tactics to intimidate users into signing up for their software, holding the user’s computer hostage until they complied. Spy-Wiper created the threat and supplied the solution. Internet users have to adjust their web surfing and downloading tactics in order to avoid becoming victims of a spy-ware attack. History

Spyware has quickly become the most prevalent threat to a computer system. Not too long ago the biggest threat to a computer system was a virus which is small computer program that copies itself from one computer to the next, with the intent of harming the computer system’s data and performance. The other major threat was spam which is seemingly not as catastrophic as a virus. Spam also known as unsolicited bulk email is when a company or person sends out the same email message to a large group of recipients indiscriminately. Spy-ware is a program that is inadvertently installed on the user’s computer without their knowledge the program covertly obtains data from the computer and transmits it to another. Spy-ware can track the websites that the user visits, collect information on the user’s clicks, gather keystrokes and obtain sign in and passwords. Spy-ware can be of a conspicuous nature where the user is somewhat aware of; additional pop-up advertising, slowing down of computer processing, and computer setting changes. The most concerning type of spy-ware has traits that are inconspicuous; installation onto the user’s computer without their knowledge, spy-ware hidden within the download of user requested material (games, attachments, etc.), and inability to uninstall or remove. Viruses and spam are still threats but compared to some spy-ware programs they are easier for the user to protect their computer systems against. Spy-ware is a major threat because they are coded differently than viruses and spam so the protection software that is available to guard computer systems from viruses and spams, do not completely protect against spy-ware. Ethical Issues

Covert Tactics
Spy-ware is placed onto most computers by means of deception. The user is not fully aware of what is being loaded onto their computer when they request a download the spy-ware has been bundled within a program that the user actually desires. Merely by habit security warnings are disregarded, user agreements go unread or if someone does read the fine print some of the details maybe misunderstood. This is what the Spy-ware companies are betting on being able to sneak their code onto the user’s computer system. Spy-ware programs aren’t up front with the user they don’t mention that their computer’s performance will be reduced or that the user will be hit with more advertising. If spy-ware programs were such a great convenience why would the spy-ware companies have to hide these programs? Computer users feel a lack of control over their own computers when spy-ware takes over. The known and unknown downloading of spy-ware may cause the user’s internet settings to change, their internet home-page to change, and reduce the processing capabilities on their computer. Spy-ware can remove the user’s favorites and replace them with other websites. Some spy-ware programs are added onto computer systems even after the user has declined the download or by just visiting the wrong website. Over 80% of computer users that are infected by spy-ware are unaware that their computer is...

References: Hinde, Stephen. "Spyware: The Spy In The Computer." Computer Fraud & Security 2004.12 (2004): 15-16. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 June 2013.
Awad, Neveen Farag, and Kristina Fitzgerald. "The Deceptive Behaviors That OFFEND US MOST About Spyware." Communications Of The ACM 48.8 (2005): 55-60. Business Source Elite. Web. 15 June 2013.
Freeman, Lee A., and Andrew Urbaczewski. "Why Do People Hate Spyware?." Communications Of The ACM 48.8 (2005): 50-53. Business Source Elite. Web. 15 June 2013.
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