Spyware has to be the most talked about PC security threat of 2005. It has now surpassed the computer virus as the No. 1 menace to computer user both at home and in the enterprise. Despite efforts from Microsoft and independent security software companies, the spyware menace is set to continue through 2006 and beyond. The research firm Radicati Group expect worldwide anti-spyware revenue to surpass $1 billion by 2010.
There are numerous types of spyware with some more dangerous than others. At one end of the spectrum spyware pushes annoying ads to your computer as is usually referred as Adware. It is still spyware as the ads are generally pushed to you based on your surfing habits. A bad infection can also dramatically impact your computers performance as your desktop slowly gets overwhelmed with pop up adverts.
At the other end of the spectrum spyware programs can record what you do on your computer including individual key strokes. This information is then shared with a third party. This data is then sold to marketing companies or used to profit from. For example, the program may have captured your bank log-in details or credit card information.