Do stealthy background programs spy on you and keep a record of what you do on your computer? The answer to that question is YES!!!
Want to reveal the world you can’t see, a world that is spying on you, then try out http://www.ghostery.com/ and you will be shocked (put the ghost item onto your panel using view/toolbars/customize–once you have uploaded the application, you will start to see some really interesting stuff while you surf the internet). If that is too technical for you, well no worries, I have summarized a lot of information that ghostery will give you below–so you don’t have to download that application if you don’t want to 🙂
Some of the programs I am about to reveal to you are well-known by some of us. For the rest of you: “you are about to find out about a world you probably never really knew existed on your computer!” –a world that eventually results in targeted advertising and pop up windows for many of us. Some criticise this technology when it is used to filter the internet information and articles we see and thus effectively prevents us from seeing unusual news or products that might be of interest to us.
Data Aggregators take in information about individuals from various sources and then analyzes that information to come out with some desired result. This type of analyzing is often called profiling.
Typical sources of information for a Data Aggregator is criminal records, general public records, credit records, school records, professional licenses, emails, background checks, and computer browsing history and data directly from your webpages (including anything you write on those web pages).
Data Aggregation on websites can be useful, it’s the thing that can store your usernames and passwords so you don’t have to remember them. The typical method of obtaining such information is screen scraping (because the websites are not necessarily built to allow for this type of storage). If your username and password is held outside your computer then sometimes it may be given special permissions that allow other affiliated programs to access it. For twitter for example, in the past it was common for things like tweetdeck to access your account name and password to perform its functions.
Over time, the record of your internet use will become large and a profile can be built up about you. These may include financial information, when you withdrew or deposited money, the balance in your bank account(s), travel details, time on the internet, medical information, what your interests are and so on.
However, just because information collectors have or can collect this information does not mean that it will be used. However it is possible that this information will remain around for some time–which is now considered to be a product. As information becomes older it is considered less relevant and costs less to purchase. However sensitive information about you may not necessarily become less sensitive over time so there is a contradiction there that monetary value does not take into account.
Just because these programs can grab a lot of information about you does not mean it will always be accurate. However small details you might find uninteresting might be stored with unusual accuracy for example (this might be things like: what you are searching for on the internet, and even your departure times for when you choose travel to name a few items of information that are for sale to other parties).
A list of stealthy background programs that take data from your computer–some of these may be active right now on your computer:
- Voice Five Networks
While these background programs checking out what your computer system is like and taking note about your activities on the computer are, they are also a business and marketers dream as this information about potential customers and what they want can make for targeted advertising.
- Data Aggregation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_aggregators
- Data Mining: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_mining
- Data Dredging: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_dredging
- Profiling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profiling_practices
- Screen Scraping
If you want to know more about this subject, I have written a second article on this matter called “Stealthy Background Programs & Cookies Collectors You Might Not Know About! What does BlueKai do?”