All companies need information about their customers or potential customers in order to provide the best solutions that will meet the customers' needs. Most companies hire marketing firms or set up customer surveys to collect this information, but a few go about it through nefarious means: by surreptitiously installing spyware on your computer that records your usage and personal information without your permission. Here are some dirty spyware tricks and how to protect yourself from them.

Spyware has to get onto your computer without you noticing, so most companies will bundle it into the installation package for a free program you can download off the internet. Some software is free precisely because the company is able to make its money on the advertising end by delivering unwanted ads to users of the program. This type of spyware is known as adware.

Most spyware is geared toward collecting user information, such as which websites you like to browse and what you buy online, in order to deliver advertising that is more likely to affect you. A person reading legal news blogs might get ads from a lawyer in Mississauga, for example, and people who buy a lot of fashion clothing might get ads for an online shoe retailer or fashion outlet sale. This type of spyware is irritating but not generally dangerous for a user's computer or bank accounts as the developers get their revenue from the unwanted ads.

Other types of spyware, however, are more malicious. They may log that you searched for pornography and report back to the Sutton members program that you are doing so at work. They may record your credit card number and personal information and feed it to identity thieves, or they may cause problems on your computer, such as slowing your internet connection or disabling your browser in an effort to get you to buy their anti-spyware or internet security packages.

To avoid spyware, carefully review any program you download for hidden additions by investigating it in message boards and trusted review sites. Any website that claims to know your computer has a virus or out of date browser and invites you to download something to fix it is almost certainly trying to get spyware onto your computer. To fix your infected computer visit your local store for internet security software such as Norton or AVG or download a trusted open source program like SpyBot.

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