Spyware is a type of malware (malicious software) installed on computers that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Spyware is often secretly installed on a user's personal computer without their knowledge. However, some spyware such as keyloggers may be installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer on purpose in order to intentionally monitor users. While the term spyware suggests software that monitors a user's computing, the functions of spyware can extend beyond simple monitoring. Spyware can collect almost any type of data, including personal information like Internet surfing habits, user logins, and bank or credit account information. Spyware can also interfere with user control of a computer by installing additional software or redirecting Web browsers.
Contributions by Tannin, Pakaran, and LGagnon.