Any software that
covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet
connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising
purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden
component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded
from the Internet; however, it should be noted that the majority
of shareware and freeware applications do not come with spyware.
Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the Internet
and transmits that information in the background to someone else.
Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and
even passwords and credit card numbers.