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Spyware is Internet jargon for Advertising Supported software (Adware). It is a way for shareware authors to make money from a product, other than by selling it to the users. There are several large media companies that offer them to place banner ads in their products in exchange for a portion of the revenue from banner sales. This way, you don't have to pay for the software and the developers are still getting paid. If you find the banners annoying, there is usually an option to remove them, by paying the regular licensing fee.

Read the official definitions for
Spyware and Adware
from Whatis.com

Why is it called "Spyware" ?
While this may be a great concept, the downside is that the advertising companies also install additional tracking software on your system, which is continuously "calling home", using your Internet connection and reports statistical data to the "mothership". While according to the privacy policies of the companies, there will be no sensitive or identifying data collected from your system and you shall remain anonymous, it still remains the fact, that you have a "live" server sitting on your PC that is sending information about you and your surfing habits to a remote location.....

Are all Adware products "Spyware"?
No, but the majority are. There are also products that do display advertising but do not install any tracking mechanism on your system. These products are not indexed in our database.

Is Spyware illegal?
Even though the name may indicate so, Spyware is not an illegal type of software in any way. However there are certain issues that a privacy oriented user may object to and therefore prefer not to use the product. This usually involves the tracking and sending of data and statistics via a server installed on the user's PC and the use of your Internet connection in the background.

What's the hype about?
While legitimate adware companies will disclose the nature of data that is collected and transmitted in their privacy statement (linked from our database), there is almost no way for the user to actually control what data is being sent. The fact is that the technology is in theory capable of sending much more than just banner statistics - and this is why many people feel uncomfortable with the idea.

On the other hand...
Millions of people are using advertising supported "spyware" products and could not care less about the privacy hype..., in fact some "Spyware" programs are among the most popular downloads on the Internet.


Real spyware...
There are also many PC surveillance tools that allow a user to monitor all kinds of activity on a computer, ranging from keystroke capture, snapshots, email logging, chat logging and just about everything else. These tools are often designed for parents, businesses and similar environments, but can be easily abused if they are installed on your computer without your knowledge.

These tools are perfectly legal in most places, but, just like an ordinary tape recorder, if they are abused, they can seriously violate your privacy.

For more information, check out these great resources:
GRC.com
The Trouble With Advertising-Supported Software
Adware, Badware & Spyware Profiles
Usenet discussions about spyware





Software Downloads available:
For a list of software tools that can help you detect and remove spyware applications, click here