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While the main purpose of this deliberately uninstallable application is to ensure the copy of Windows on the machine was lawfully purchased and installed, it also installs software that has been accused of " phoning home " on a daily basis, like spyware. Stalkerware is spyware that has been used to monitor electronic activities of partners in intimate relationships. At least one software package, Loverspy, was specifically marketed for this purpose.
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Anti-spyware programs often report Web advertisers' HTTP cookies , the small text files that track browsing activity, as spyware. While they are not always inherently malicious, many users object to third parties using space on their personal computers for their business purposes, and many anti-spyware programs offer to remove them.
These common spyware programs illustrate the diversity of behaviors found in these attacks. Note that as with computer viruses, researchers give names to spyware programs which may not be used by their creators. Programs may be grouped into "families" based not on shared program code, but on common behaviors, or by "following the money" of apparent financial or business connections.
For instance, a number of the spyware programs distributed by Claria are collectively known as "Gator". Likewise, programs that are frequently installed together may be described as parts of the same spyware package, even if they function separately. The first recorded use of the term spyware occurred on October 16, in a Usenet post that poked fun at Microsoft 's business model.
According to a study by AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance, 61 percent of surveyed users' computers were infected with form of spyware. Computers on which Internet Explorer IE is the primary browser are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, not only because IE is the most widely used,  but because its tight integration with Windows allows spyware access to crucial parts of the operating system.
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The Windows Registry contains multiple sections where modification of key values allows software to be executed automatically when the operating system boots. Spyware can exploit this design to circumvent attempts at removal. The spyware typically will link itself from each location in the registry that allows execution. Once running, the spyware will periodically check if any of these links are removed.
If so, they will be automatically restored. This ensures that the spyware will execute when the operating system is booted, even if some or most of the registry links are removed. Malicious programmers have released a large number of rogue fake anti-spyware programs, and widely distributed Web banner ads can warn users that their computers have been infected with spyware, directing them to purchase programs which do not actually remove spyware—or else, may add more spyware of their own. The recent [update] proliferation of fake or spoofed antivirus products that bill themselves as antispyware can be troublesome.
Users may receive popups prompting them to install them to protect their computer, when it will in fact add spyware. This software is called rogue software. It is recommended that users do not install any freeware claiming to be anti-spyware unless it is verified to be legitimate.
Some known offenders include:. Fake antivirus products constitute 15 percent of all malware.
On January 26, , Microsoft and the Washington state attorney general filed suit against Secure Computer for its Spyware Cleaner product. Unauthorized access to a computer is illegal under computer crime laws, such as the U. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act , the U. Since owners of computers infected with spyware generally claim that they never authorized the installation, a prima facie reading would suggest that the promulgation of spyware would count as a criminal act.
Law enforcement has often pursued the authors of other malware, particularly viruses. However, few spyware developers have been prosecuted, and many operate openly as strictly legitimate businesses, though some have faced lawsuits. Spyware producers argue that, contrary to the users' claims, users do in fact give consent to installations. Spyware that comes bundled with shareware applications may be described in the legalese text of an end-user license agreement EULA.
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Many users habitually ignore these purported contracts, but spyware companies such as Claria say these demonstrate that users have consented. Despite the ubiquity of EULAs agreements, under which a single click can be taken as consent to the entire text, relatively little caselaw has resulted from their use. It has been established in most common law jurisdictions that this type of agreement can be a binding contract in certain circumstances. Some jurisdictions, including the U. Such laws make it illegal for anyone other than the owner or operator of a computer to install software that alters Web-browser settings, monitors keystrokes, or disables computer-security software.
In the United States, lawmakers introduced a bill in entitled the Internet Spyware Prevention Act , which would imprison creators of spyware. The US Federal Trade Commission has sued Internet marketing organizations under the " unfairness doctrine "  to make them stop infecting consumers' PCs with spyware. In one case, that against Seismic Entertainment Productions, the FTC accused the defendants of developing a program that seized control of PCs nationwide, infected them with spyware and other malicious software, bombarded them with a barrage of pop-up advertising for Seismic's clients, exposed the PCs to security risks, and caused them to malfunction.
Seismic then offered to sell the victims an "antispyware" program to fix the computers, and stop the popups and other problems that Seismic had caused. From Anywhere. The case is still in its preliminary stages. It applied fines in total value of Euro 1,, for infecting 22 million computers. The spyware concerned is called DollarRevenue. The law articles that have been violated are art.
The hijacking of Web advertisements has also led to litigation. In June , a number of large Web publishers sued Claria for replacing advertisements, but settled out of court. Courts have not yet had to decide whether advertisers can be held liable for spyware that displays their ads.
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In many cases, the companies whose advertisements appear in spyware pop-ups do not directly do business with the spyware firm. Rather, they have contracted with an advertising agency , which in turn contracts with an online subcontractor who gets paid by the number of "impressions" or appearances of the advertisement.
Some major firms such as Dell Computer and Mercedes-Benz have sacked advertising agencies that have run their ads in spyware. Litigation has gone both ways. Since "spyware" has become a common pejorative , some makers have filed libel and defamation actions when their products have been so described. In , Gator now known as Claria filed suit against the website PC Pitstop for describing its program as "spyware".
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In the WebcamGate case, plaintiffs charged two suburban Philadelphia high schools secretly spied on students by surreptitiously and remotely activating webcams embedded in school-issued laptops the students were using at home, and therefore infringed on their privacy rights. The school loaded each student's computer with LANrev 's remote activation tracking software. This included the now-discontinued "TheftTrack".
While TheftTrack was not enabled by default on the software, the program allowed the school district to elect to activate it, and to choose which of the TheftTrack surveillance options the school wanted to enable. TheftTrack allowed school district employees to secretly remotely activate the webcam embedded in the student's laptop, above the laptop's screen.
That allowed school officials to secretly take photos through the webcam, of whatever was in front of it and in its line of sight, and send the photos to the school's server. The LANrev software disabled the webcams for all other uses e. In addition to webcam surveillance, TheftTrack allowed school officials to take screenshots, and send them to the school's server. In addition, LANrev allowed school officials to take snapshots of instant messages, web browsing, music playlists, and written compositions. The schools admitted to secretly snapping over 66, webshots and screenshots , including webcam shots of students in their bedrooms.
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Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. November This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. See also: Category:Spyware removal. See also: List of rogue security software , List of fake anti-spyware programs , and Rogue security software. Main article: Robbins v. Lower Merion School District. Archived from the original PDF on November 1, Retrieved February 5, Ars Technica.
CNet News. Retrieved March 7, Retrieved November 28, December 16, Archived from the original on February 27, Retrieved April 10, Archived from the original on February 14, Cornell University, Office of Information Technologies. March 31, Spyware Loop. Archived from the original on November 3, Retrieved July 27, Retrieved November 14, Massive spyware-based identity theft ring uncovered. Ars Technica, August 5, What to do?
The Legacy Sunbelt Software Blog. Federal Trade Commission, September 3, Retrieved November 22, Retrieved November 29, Retrieved June 13, Retrieved August 31, Department of Justice. August 26, Archived from the original on November 19, Retrieved November 21, Retrieved April 28, Parasite information database. Archived from the original on January 6, Retrieved September 4, The New York Times. September 21, Archived from the original on May 9, Retrieved September 11, June 20, Federal Trade Commission.
August 15, Washington State Office of the Attorney General. August 14, August 8, Retrieved February 14, February 14, IT PRO. Retrieved August 23, The Verge. Fast Company. Retrieved September 3, Total Technology Resources. July 28, Retrieved November 20, Archived from the original on April 1, They are in great helpf when the password is lost or forgotten, or an authorized user wants to access the account of a user that is no longer being used. These tools are often called password 'cracking' utilities because they crack the password.
They can also remove or reset password depending on their functionality. There are dozens of password recovery software applications available on the Internet, but not all of them are equally effective. Some of them have a low recovery rate; others aren't vetted by other users so they may be unsafe or contain malware; some software can even damage or delete the data you have on your computer. That's why you need to be very careful when choosing the right tool to recover your Windows password. This article outlines ten of the best free Windows password recovery tools that we've reviewed so far in They're all well-known among Windows users, and all of them have fairly good recovery rates.
Of course, since they're free, they will each have their limitations. Some may take a long time to recover or unlock your Windows password; others might have restrictions on the password length they can handle, and so on. So let's get started with our list. If you're proactive, this is probably the easiest way to recovery your Windows password for free.
In order to be able to access your PC without a password, you first need to create a password reset disk from within Windows. A reset disk created this way will allow you to simply insert it into a locked PC and reset the password on the login screen. If you forgot doing this in advance, please skip this part and choose one from the rest suggestions. At the login screen, please click "Reset Password".
From the next screen, please follow the screen intructions and select the disk name from the prompt. Once the disk is recognized by the comoputer, it will ask you to set a new password for that computer. Just type a new password and click "Finish". Reboot the computer and input the new password for login.
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UBCD is an useful tool when you've already forgotten your Windows password and you can't get into your user or admin account. Ultimate Boot CD, or UBCD, not only has the chntpw utility built into it to recovery passwords, but it also comes with an array of repair tools for several Windows issues. For now, we'll focus on password recovery.
On the boot menu, you'll see "Parted Magic"; select that and hit Enter. On the next screen, just select the default settings to get to the Parted Magic desktop. Another smaller window will open and show you all the drive partitions. Select the right one, and that will display the Main Interactive Menu for the chntpw utility.
Follow the on-screen instructions to choose the right user and then edit or delete that user's password. Finally, press q and Enter to quit, then y and Enter to confirm writing the registry hive to the disk.
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And you're done. Most of the tools suggested in this post are free. One big issue with free software is that they are really hard to use and not user friendly. That's why we list the premium software PassMoz LabWin in here. This program has much more clean user interface and all the operations are done via mouse. So there is no hassle for any level of users. In addition, the password reset engine is strong enough to remove any type of password from a Windows machine almost instantly.
It saves a lot of time with free tools like Ophcrack or HastSuite, which brute-force the Windows login password instead of removing it.
You can follow this tutorial to reset Windows password in a minute. You will need a Windows installation CD to use this method, as well as some experience with command line work. You don't have to be an expert, but it helps if you have some working knowledge of the process involved. Never do anything you're not comfortable doing. There are always other methods you can try from this list.
But if you want to do it this way, here's how:. Most PCs are setup to boot from the disk, but if that's not the case, simple enter the BIOS setup and change the boot order. Change the boot order to "Boot from CD" and resume the boot process. If you've done the first step properly, you will now see Options to either repair or install Windows. Choose Repair and then click on Command Prompt. After this, remove the installation disk and reboot your computer. On the login screen, press your Shift key 5 times in a row, and you'll be taken to the command prompt again.
This time, type: net user username newpassword replace strings as appropriate. This one acts as a password remover rather than a reset program, so it works differently from Ophcrack and other similar software. The method is the same, however.
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All you need to do is download and burn the offline ISO file and then use the burned disk or drive to boot up your locked computer. Once the program has run, there won't be any password when you login to your Windows user or admin account. More detailed tutorial can be found in here. Be warned that this program requires some command line work that could be hard for someone with no experience.
The initial process is the same as the previous two applications except for the command line inputs. If you're not comfortable with this, don't use this method. Ophcrack is one of the better-known password recovery programs. It's open-source, so you have to be careful what version you pick.