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What Spyware and Malware Are and How Your Computer Gets Them

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Spyware is a term given to software that installs itself on a computer and then tracks that computer user’s Internet usage. Companies who create this stuff do it mainly for marketing purposes, but it feels like they do it just to annoy the living daylights out of us. Malware stands for malicious software. In fact, it’s the new hip term for bad software on computers, and spyware is simply just a category of malware. Malware contains just about every other type of bad software too, though, not just spyware. For example, a virus is also malware (I’ll talk more about viruses later in this chapter). Really, it’s used to describe any type of software that invades your privacy or deliberately tries to damage your computer or the files and programs on it. Malware can be transmitted through a network, a website on the Internet, emails, CDs and DVDs, downloaded files, and documents you have shared with people you know. This is the stuff you want to protect yourself from because it can either harm the files on your computer or just diminish your personal computing experience and make it annoying.

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