What Is Spyware?
What is spyware?
Spyware is loosely defined as a type of malicious software, also known as malware, that runs in the background of a computer, collecting private information and transmitting it to a third party without the user’s knowledge.
How does spyware affect my machine?
Spyware can take on many different forms, including:
- Adware, spyware that displays unwanted advertising on your machine. Not all adware is unauthorized; some companies’ user agreements authorize them to install adware on your machine, allowing them to deliver you individualized advertisements.
- Keylogger, spyware that logs your keystrokes in order to collect personal information such as passwords and PINs.
- Browser hijacker, spyware that changes your web browser settings in order to redirect you to certain websites.
How can I protect myself against spyware?
The best way to protect your system is to block spyware before it can be installed on your machine.
- Be selective about what you download. Use extreme caution when deciding whether to download free software. USC provides free and safe-to-download software at software.usc.edu.
- Do not click links in pop-up windows, which may download spyware to your computer without your knowledge. To shut a pop-up window, click the “x” in the upper right corner.
- Download antivirus software. All USC students, faculty, and staff can download Sophos Endpoint Security antivirus software free from software.usc.edu.