Spyware is software that monitors your activity on the Internet and then transmits this information to a third party without your knowledge or consent.
Spyware can gather information about your email addresses, banking information, passwords, credit cards, and the Web sites you have visited. It can even record every keystroke you type and then transmit it in the background to a third party.
The third-party company can use this information for marketing purposes or sell it to another party. In most cases, you will have no idea this information was gathered or transmitted.
Spyware varies from annoying advertising banners that slow your computer's processing speed to insidious programs that steal your credit card information or charge thousands of dollars of long distance calls to your phone number.
How can I protect my computer from spyware in the future?
Several of the latest versions of antivirus software also protect against spyware. Configuring these programs to scan all activities while your computer is running and scheduling regular scans of your hard drive can greatly reduce the threat of spyware infecting your computer.