Software designed to collect information about what you are doing on the computer.

For example a 'key logger' is a type of spyware that monitors and stores a record of every keystroke made on the computer. This data may then be sent to a remote server without your knowledge. Used to harvest passwords.

Spyware may be installed without your knowledge by downloading some shareware or other software that does seems to something useful e.g. a free game or utility.

Computer security software normally includes an anti-spyware section to help detect these malicious programmes.

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