What is Spyware?
Spyware is defined as any application that records information about what you do on your computer. This information is often sold to advertisers who then create targeted ads that appear on your computer. Spyware is always installed on your computer without your consent (otherwise, the program cannot be classified as such).
The type of information collected by spyware varies. Some spyware tracks information such as the type of operating system and Internet connection you have. More aggressive spyware tracks personal information, how you use the Internet, and even your personal files.
Your computer can become infected with spyware by visiting an corrupt website, downloading free utilities, clicking a pop-up window, or opening an email. In most cases, you will not know that anything was downloaded and installed to your computer (which means you will not know your computer is infected with spyware).
Even worse, numerous software programs (software you may have even purchased) are often bundled with spyware. Many companies are interested in what you do online and your shopping habits and will jump through hoops to get that information (even if it means being unscrupulous in their attempts). They can get away with this by slipping a disclaimer in the End User License Agreement (EULA). Unfortunately, most people do not read the EULA or if they do, they do not understand it or read it carefully enough. Be certain to check out the EULA on any software you install on your computer before clicking the "OK" button.
Spyware remover software is highly recommended even if you have anti-virus software and a firewall.