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[spahy-wair] /ˈspaɪˌwɛər/
Computers. software that is installed surreptitiously and gathers information about an Internet user's browsing habits, intercepts the user's personal data, etc., transmitting this information to a third party:
a parent's use of spyware to monitor a child's online activities.
tools that are used to conduct espionage:
The nation's sophisticated spyware rivals that of the CIA.
Origin of spyware Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for spyware


(computing) software installed via the internet on a computer without the user's knowledge and used to send information about the user to another computer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for spyware

any software that covertly gathers information about a user while he/she navigates the Internet and transmits the information to an individual or company that uses it for marketing or other purposes

Usage Note

computing's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for spyware

by 2000, from spy + ending from software in the computer sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spyware in Technology
(Or "adware") Any type of software that transmits information without the user's knowledge.
Information is sent via the Internet to a server somewhere, normally as a hidden side effect of using a program. Gathering this information may benefit the user indirectly, e.g. by helping to improve the software he is using. It may be collected for advertising purposes or, worst of all, to steal security information such as passwords to online accounts or credit card details.
Spyware may be installed along with other software or as the result of a virus infection. There are many tools available to locate and remove various forms of spyware from a computer.
Some HTTP cookies could be considered as spyware as their use is generally not made explicit to users. It is however possible to disallow them, either totally or individually, and some are actually useful, e.g. recording the fact that a user has logged in.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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