I have a major problem with Spyware, mostly because so many people don’t even know what it is, let alone why it is a problem. If you use Internet Explorer, however, there is a better-than-average chance that your computer is already infected.
Spyware is a nasty piece of software that infects a computer, then sits innocently in the background, collecting data about your web surfing habits. The spyware then does two things with this information: first, it sends all of this data over the internet to the company that wrote the software. That company’s servers processes the data, and then sends back information to the software telling it what ads it should show you. The spyware then starts popping up ads that it thinks will interest you.
I don’t know what is creepier about spyware: that it can track everywhere you go, or that it reports this data back to headquarters. When combined, this is very nasty behavior. Spyware companies are basically selling out computer users’ privacy for a little bit of money.
There are ways around this, though. Dump Internet Explorer and use a Mozilla-based browser. Most Spyware is written for IE. Mozilla is safe (for now). Also, download something like Ad Aware, and run it regulary (at least once a week).