Online Spying Tools

Online Spying Tools

Spying Tools Software developers have created a number of ways to track your activities online.
Although many of these tools were created for benign purposes-such as helping legitimate Webmasters determine who visits their sites most often-they are also being used in ways most consumers do not appreciate.
Cookies
 
A cookie is a small text file that a Web server asks your browser to place on your computer.
 
The cookie contains information that identifies your computer (its IP address), you (your user name or e-mail address), and information about your visit to the Web site.
For instance, the cookie might list the last time you visited the site, which pages you downloaded, and how long you were at the site before leaving.
If you set up an account at a Web site such as an e-commerce site, the cookie will contain information about your account, making it easy for the server to find and maintain your account whenever you visit.
Despite their helpful purpose, cookies are now considered a significant threat to privacy.
This is because they can be used to store and report many types of information.
For example, a cookie can store a list of all the sites you visit.
This data can be transferred to the site that placed the cookie on your system, and that information can be used against your wishes.
Web Bugs
A Web bug is a small GIF-format image file that can be embedded in a Web page or an HTML-format e-mail message.
A Web bug can be as small as a single pixel in size and can easily be hidden anywhere in an HTML document.
Behind the tiny image, however, lies code that functions in much the same way as a cookie, allowing the bug’s creator to track many of your online activities.
A bug can record what Web pages you view, keywords you type into a search engine, personal information you enter in a form on a Web page, and other data.
Because Web bugs are hidden, they are considered by many to be eavesdropping devices.
Upon learning about Web bugs, most consumers look for a way to defeat them. A number of anti-Web bug programs now exist.
Spyware
The term spyware is used to refer to many different kinds of software that can track a computer user’s activities and report them to someone else.
There are now countless varieties of spyware programs. Another common term for spyware is adware, because Internet advertising is a common source of spyware.
Some types of spyware operate openly. For example, when you install and register a program, it may ask you to fill out a form.
The program then sends the information to the developer, who stores it in a database.
When used in this manner, spyware-type programs are seen as perfectly legitimate because the user is aware that information is being collected.
More commonly, however, spyware is installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge and collects information without the user’s consent.
Spyware can land on your PC from many sources: Web pages, e-mail messages, and popup ads are just a few.
Once on your machine, spyware can track virtually anything you do and secretly report your activities to someone else.
Spyware can record individual keystrokes, Web usage, e-mail addresses, personal information, and other types of data. Generally, the program transmits the collected data via e-mail or to a Web page.

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