Spyware and Online Identity Theft

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What is spyware and what does it have to do with online identity theft?

Spyware and Online Identity Theft

Using spyware is one of the methods criminals use to commit identity theft on the Internet. Spyware (a form of malware - or malicious software) programs can be installed on a personal computer without the consumer's awareness. It's picked up from websites, instant messages, email, and file-sharing connections. It sometimes 'piggybacks' a piece of software, often advertised as security or acceleration software (this is sometimes referred to as a 'Trojan horse'). Spyware can also masquerade as a Windows dialog box that, once clicked on, downloads to your computer.

There are two types of spyware: surveillance spyware and advertising spyware. Advertising spyware gathers information about the user to track online buying habits and personal preferences. Surveillance spyware is used to collect information such as user names, passwords, financial information, and the history of Internet sites visited. It can redirect the Web browser, causing the acquisition of harmful viruses, and can change computer settings that slow connection speed.

Spyware is often used by businesses trying to find out more about you in order to sell you products, putting you at risk of identity theft. To reduce the chances of being the victim of computer identity theft, install anti-spyware software, designed to remove and block spyware from infecting your computer.

   

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