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Spyware and Removal

Spyware, also known as malicious software (malware), is an application that gathers information about users without their knowledge. Such applications are most often downloaded onto a computer when users are visiting websites or downloading software. The primary function of these applications is to collect personal information stored on your computer.

How spyware works

Once downloaded on your personal computer, spyware can monitor your keystrokes, scan through the files on your hard drive, read cookies or open applications and transfer information over the Internet to an unknown third party. Profiles set up by the spyware allow for pop-up advertisements to appear on your computer without a browser being open.
Spyware uses the memory and resources (like your bandwidth to access the Internet) on your computer to function, collect data and relay information over the Internet. This results in a loss of system stability on your computer. If you have spyware on your computer, you may experience the following:

  • The system performance may be affected which will slow down your computer
  • Your computer may crash or freeze
  • You may also have difficulty accessing the Internet
  • Your Internet browser will have changes to its toolbars and could be re-directing your site choices
Spyware vs. adware

Adware and spyware are similar in that they both intrude on the privacy of individuals by installing themselves on users' computers without users' knowledge, usually via downloads or viruses. Adware displays advertising messages or banners to the user, but also secretly gathers information about their use of websites and relays it back to the program's originator, usually for advertising purposes.
Spyware, on the other hand, may not be visible at all but will run in the background recording keystrokes and relaying this information to another computer. It may become visible, however, in the form of pop-ups or other changes in the usual function of users' applications. As an example, suppose you enter your banking credentials into a sign-on page and receive an unexpected pop-up screen, which says there was an authentication failure and demands further personal information. In this example, the spyware is trying to lure you into providing further information that it can store and relay to another computer.

Spyware vs. viruses

Spyware may be sent to you within a virus. While spyware and viruses may have similar effects on your computer (such as slowing down your system), they have different purposes. The main purpose of a virus is to cause deliberate damage to your software or data. In contrast, the main purpose of spyware is to gather secret information and relay it to others - any damage that it causes is incidental.

Save your card number

The saved card feature, found on the sign on page for CIBC FirstCaribbean Online Banking, allows you to save your card numbers using an encrypted cookie that is stored only on your own personal computer. This information, once saved on your computer, is automatically generated each time you sign in to CIBC FirstCaribbean Online Banking.
Spyware that monitors keystrokes cannot identify your card number using this feature because you will not be required to type in the number each time you login.

Spyware removal tools

To protect your computer's security, you should be using a firewall, and an up-to-date anti-virus program. If you do not have an anti-virus program, a discounted version of Norton Internet Security is available here