Since the advent of Spam, spyware is considered to be the biggest threat to internet users and online businesses. Still majority of users remain unaware of the fact that spyware is residing on their personal computers. Technically, spyware is a software or agent technology that is packaged within other software, most commonly with freeware that are downloaded and installed by users (Klang, 2004). Spyware gain unauthorized entry into a user’s computer and collects private information from it and report to the information gatherer without the user’s knowledge and consent. It tracks your online activities, taps and steals users’ confidential data, such as passwords, e-mail addresses, credit card numbers etc. and transfers it to the attacker’s computer. Such malicious activity can cause serious damages to a person’s personal data and property, thereby leading to identity thefts, phishing, and other dangerous online frauds. Legal and ethical issues pertaining to spyware demand a response.
Spyware is regarded as both illegal and unethical. Freeware or downloadable software installed by users must clearly state in the licence agreement that spyware is included. Users are recommended to carefully read and understand all agreements and policies of the freeware before doing any activity on a website. Users must ensure that their privacy is not under threat while doing business on the Web (Haag & Cummings, 2008). The moment a user detects a spyware application on their computer, they must disconnect from the Internet and run legitimate spyware-removal software. If the downloaded free software had banner adverts, it is most likely to contain hidden spyware as well. The “I agree” screens contain some data about spyware, but users generally cannot find it. Spyware continue to stay on the victim’s computers even after the original software has been removed. For businesses and industries involving data collection and protection laws, spyware leads to unwitting non-compliance.
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Technology 6, 193-204. Retrieved from http://www.digital-rights.net/wp-