What is spyware?
Spyware is software that gathers information about your Web surfing habits for marketing purposes. Spyware piggbacks on programs you choose to download. Tucked aware in fine print of user agreements for many free downloads and services is a stipulation that the company will use spyware to monitor your Web habits for business research purposes. 

What risks are involved?
Spyware takes up memory and space on your computer. It can slow down your machine, transmits information without your knowledge, and lead to general computer malfunction. You may choose to keep certain spyware programs on your computer in exchange for the free services that accompany them, but you should be aware of how that might affect your computer.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Closely read user agreements for free programs before clicking, "I accept the terms."  Watch for allusions to spyware and adware in user agreements.
  • Regularly scan your computer with an anti-spyware program.