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Spyware, such as trojan horses, can persistently disallow the
user control over his computing resources [11]. Most users are
not aware of the depth of penetration into their systems [28].
The browser’s home page, default search engine, bookmarks,
and toolbars can be changed to persistently present a
competitor’s web site or a look-alike site. Mistyped URLs can
be redirected to pornographic sites and pop-up advertising can
be presented. Websites may be launched without any action by
the user. Dialers can use a telephone modem to dial into a
service, such as a pornographic 900 number, for which the user
is then billed [24]. System settings can be modified. For
example, the auto signature can be reset; uninstall features can
be disabled or bypassed; and anti-virus, anti-spyware, and
firewall software can be modified. Hijacking is particularly
offensive due to its persistent nature.
Spyware usually arrives uninvited from file-sharing services as
hidden components bundled with desired downloads, but can
also be included with purchased software. Spyware can
masquerade as a legitimate plug-in or pose as a browser help
object, such as a toolbar. Users may unwittingly consent and
accept spyware by agreeing to, but not reading, the EULA.
Spyware can also be distributed in a variety of stealth ways.
For example, a “drive-by download” starts a download process
when a user visits a website or clicks on a web ad. Users may
also be tricked into installing spyware. A message box may
appear saying, “To install this program, click ‘No’” prompting
a user to unknowingly click for installation