What is Spy Software?
Spy Software is an application that allows the recording and logging of activities on a computer. The term spy is used as the software may discretely record activities without the users knowledge, such as when parents wish to monitor their childs internet usage without advising them they are doing so. This type of application is also known as computer monitoring software.
Different software titles allow the recording and logging of different applications. They may monitor keystrokes typed, chat conversations, emails, web sites visited, software opened, documents opened, or all of the aforementioned. Some also provide blocking of certain applications such as chat, and others the provision to be discrete or not.
Spy Software requires the user to physically install the software on the computer or network to be monitored. This is in vast contrast to ‘spyware’ which attempts to load itself onto other peoples computers through deceitful means – such as installing itself by being bundled with a screensaver download.
There are many reasons for employing computer monitoring software, and it is commonly used throughout the world by concerned parents, spouses and partners, government departments, educational institutions, and employers. Whilst spy software can be an excellent tool, laws in your area may prohibit its use in full or part, depending on your intended application. If you are in any doubt as to its legality for your specific use, be sure to seek legal advice.
Spy Software vs. Spyware
Spy Software defines monitoring programs used for capturing information from computers you own and have legal access to. Its most common purpose is as an investigative tool.
Spy Software is used worldwide by businesses, government departments, concerned parents and spouses. Many spy software titles have received awards from major computer magazines and sites for the quality and usefulness of the software.
Spyware also defines monitoring programs used for capturing information from computers, however its design is for the theft of information from computers. It commonly attempts to take control of a computer, surreptitiously modifies a web browser’s home page, sends keystroke information to unknown third parties (including credit card details, bank account login details, and passwords – anything you have typed) and disables antivirus software. Spyware is illegal in the United States, and the Australian Democrats are currently seeking to outlaw spyware in Australia. Spyware is often bundled with other applications, including screensavers and games, making children and teenagers an easy target for a spyware installation. When an application such as a screensaver is installed, it will also install the spyware discreetly alongside, leaving the user unknowingly contaminated without their knowledge.
It is unfortunate that the press in Australia often uses the term spy software to cover spyware applications. They are not the same, hence why the term spyware was coined in the first place. Spy Software as a term, that covers legal monitoring applications, has been in use for many years; well before spyware even came into existence. Whilst this misleading use of the term may not change anytime soon, at least you now know the difference.
What is a Keylogger?
Keylogger is a shortened version of the term “Keystoke Logging.” Keyloggers are designed to record every keystoke (character typed) on the keyboard of a computer.
Key loggers are available in a few different forms, ranging from software through to plug in hardware devices.
Basic keylogging software will record all visible characters, such as those you see on a document. Advanced keyloggers are able to record all hidden, or invisible, keys such as the “Shift” and “Ctrl” keys. Some will also provide a time/date stamp, and record what document or window the keystrokes were typed in.
Keylogger software is useful in a variety of applications, ranging from keeping the kids honest, to preserving documents as they are typed, and diagnostic testing of software. It is available as standalone software in a discrete form used for computer surveillance, and also as a standard application. Keylogging utilities are commonly bundled with advanced monitoring software as part of a complete computer surveillance package.
Unfortunately key loggers are commonly integrated into spyware applications, trojan horses, viruses, and worms, with the design of stealing information such as passwords and online banking details.
It is also documented that police departments and intelligence agencies make use of key logging applications embedded within trojan horses to obtain information from suspects.