What Is Spyware?

Spyware is a kind of program that is created by some marketing companies to keep track of your Internet surfing trends. Why would they care, you ask? Well, imagine having your own personal shopping agent that follows you around the city throughout the day, noting everything you do, everything you buy, and even everything you window-shop. The information the agent collected is relayed to companies that want your business.

As you begin your next day, your shopping agent is now armed with the information collected on the previous day. The shopping agent will now go out of their way to show you advertisements that closely resemble your likes and needs. More specifically, say you were driving around town the previous day looking for a new car. Along the way you stopped for lunch at the local Mexican restaurant, “El Taco Grande.” After your tasty lunch you passed by a pawnshop and saw a guitar on the window. You did not stop, but your agent noted your interest anyway.

The next morning as soon as you pulled out of your driveway, a taxi cut you off with a roof ad that stated “Follow me and test drive a new Hybrid-Off-Roader.” You had to honk your horn repeatedly to make him move out of your way. Not long after you persuaded the taxi ad to move out of your way, a flyer landed on your windshield with a coupon for “Buy one get one free burrito” at the nearest Mexican restaurant. You had to pull off the road to remove the “coupon” that was blocking your view.

Once you were back on the road, a group of teenagers flagged you down to entice you to attend their yard sale where they featured a used 12-string guitar. At this rate, you never get to work because of all these interruptions. This is the job of Spyware — to report on your Internet surfing trends and then bombard you with pop-up ads in hopes of getting your business. But it’s annoying as heck.

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