What Is Spyware?
The word ‘spyware’ was first used in 1995, in a Usenet post. Spyware is a term used for any malicious software that is designed to ”spy” on someone’s personal data or network. They run in the background, access and collect sensitive data without the knowledge or consent of the owner.
Any software that monitors or obtains sensitive data without the owner’s knowledge or consent is considered to be spyware.
What is considered to be spying?
Content-control of any kind. Whether it is screen, chats or social networks’ content. Basically, capturing anything considered to be personal or sensitive information is spying. For example, social network content monitoring that discloses religious or philosophical beliefs is legally ranked as sensitive data. keystrokes logging might provide information containing passwords, which is below the legal line activity.
What is Sensitive Data?
The most common list of categories for sensitive data is the list in the EU Data Protection Directive, which includes personal data or opinion about: racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual orientation or practices, criminal record (this is also regarded as personal information), health information about an individual, genetic information about an individual that is not otherwise health information, biometric information that is to be used for the purpose of automated biometric identification or verification, or biometric templates. » (By Kate Lucente and John Townsend in ‘Data Protection Laws of the World’, May 2015).
Lawyers define the term “sensitive information” as personal data, with respect to any information about an individual which if used incorrectly might lead to violation of privacy and human rights correspondingly.
What are the main types of spyware?
Adware: This kind of spyware monitors activities like downloads and browser history of your computer in order to predict your interests. The adware displays ads in the category of products that may pique your interest or encourage you to click or buy. Adware is used for marketing purposes and can decrease your computer’s speed.
Trojan: This type of malicious software can be very tricky. It masquerades as a bona fide app or software with the intent of misleading you into running it on your device. For instance, when downloading, Trojans can appear to be games, Java or Flash Player updates. Third-parties control trojan malware. It can be used to obtain sensitive data such as credit card details.
Tracking cookies: These monitor internet activities including search history, downloads for marketing purposes.
System monitors: Also known as spy software. Spy software can be configured by the purchaser of the software. This kind of spyware takes note of every activity performed on your device. System monitors are able to record all keystrokes, screen content, emails, websites visited, usernames and passwords.
What are the functions/features of spy software?
Spying Software Functions include:
- Screen Content Monitoring;
- Keystrokes Logging;
- Email Content Monitoring;
- Chat Content Monitoring;
- Social Network Content Monitoring;
- Website Passwords and User Names Monitoring;
- Documents & Files Content Monitoring;
- Print Content Monitoring.
Performance Monitoring Software VS Spy Software
As opposed to employee performance monitoring software, spyware seeks to neglect the legal aspects guiding employee monitoring software and the possible consequences. While productivity monitoring software tracks the performance and efficiency of employees during their working hours, spying software users, on the other hand, choose more invasive features to control content over performance-orientation. In many countries, the law permits employers to monitor their workers during work hours, at the workplace. Installing spying apps is an extreme way to track and strip your workforce of their privacy.
Professional Lawyers’ Advice
Under the Computer Misuse Act (1990), it is a crime to gain access to someone else’s computer without their knowledge.
Local legislation varies, but in general professional lawyers advise that sensitive data may not be used or monitored without a person’s consent; its usage without permission might violate and infringe on personal privacy by disclosing personal information. Also, they suggest remembering the business rationale and goals, when implementing monitoring software.
While performance/productivity monitoring software tracks the performance and efficiency of employees during their working hours, spying software, on the other hand, chooses more invasive features to control content over performance-orientation.
Opt for a Security-Conscious Approach
Spyware is widely spread across the web and is ever-present in today’s mobile and desktop devices. It’s advisable to go for an employee monitoring tool that focuses on increasing productivity and efficiency. Avoid tools with features that endanger privacy.
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Analytical Writer, WorkTime.
www.worktime.com – Employee Monitoring Experts Since 1998
This article provides general information only. This information is for general understanding only and not to be used as legal advice. To receive professional legal advice, please consult your lawyer.