The Link Between Spam and Spyware
After the advent of the Internet, it didn’t take long for spam to come about, even if its name wasn’t coined until some years later. Of course, there have always been plenty of companies utilizing completely legitimate Internet advertising practices, but at the same time, there have always been lots of people and companies trying to find ways to advertise without having to pay for it. This desire for free, no-strings marketing has led to many of the invasive and annoying Web threats that we now face.
Because of computers and the Web, free advertising is easier than ever. On the Internet, free advertising can be achieved through the use of relatively simply tactics, and thousands are taking advantage of this. Along with these tactics comes a high degree of anonymity and unaccountability, which allows spammers to do as they please almost completely unchecked. Even worse, because many spammers are from foreign countries, their actions are difficult or impossible to regulate.
This is where free enterprise comes in. Fortunately for the average Web user, email services have become quite good at blocking spam, and antispam software has gone even further in keeping email annoyances out of sight. However, even as we began to enjoy these developments, the spammers took their enterprise a step further, creating spyware.
The term “spyware” includes a countless number of computer software programs that install themselves on home and business PC’s without the knowledge of the computer’s user. Spyware comes from Web sites, emails, software, and many other sources, and its makers are constantly finding new ways to put it on our computers.
Once entrenched on a hard-drive, the average spyware program monitors the actions and behaviors of the computer’s user or users, and sends this information to a third party, who uses it for clandestine and often illegal purposes. Among the information gathered by spyware programs are our Web browsing habits, our names, addresses, phone numbers, and even our financial information. Essentially, there is nothing about what we do on our computers that spyware can’t monitor, and there is no information that it can’t collect.
And, in a disheartening twist, spyware has more recently facilitated a strong resurgence of the spam of old. Once installed on your computer, a spyware program can read all of the security measures you may or may not have in place, and it can look at the emails and information you allow on your PC. Obviously, this information can be used to subvert your antispam measures, finding loopholes in your set-up and pushing things through those holes.
Have your recently noticed a lot of annoying advertisements over the course of your daily Web browsing? Have more spam emails been making it to your inbox lately? Have you been experiencing a lot of noisy and annoying pop-up browser windows? All of this could be due to spyware that you don’t know you have on your computer.
To stop this invasion, there is a burgeoning world of antispyware software now available for purchase or for download. Of course, these programs are not meant to replace former security measures, but instead are meant to enhance and expand upon the computer security tactics you already have in place. Many of the same companies who have long produced antivirus and antispam software are now releasing these antispyware programs.
Of course, considering the ever-changing landscape of the Web, spammers and spyware-makers are sure to find new ways to invade our computers. The best we can do is try to keep up with these developments, and to continue to use the most-up-date software to defend our computers.