Layered Service Provider
A Layered Service Provider, or LSP, is a piece of software that is tightly woven into the networking services of a computer. In particular, when using the protocol of the internet, TCP/IP, the LSP integrates itself with the TCP/IP layer of your network. As such, the LSP has access to all TCP/IP traffic coming into and leaving a computer. If the LSP is from a "good" author, then the communication can be enhanced and protected in many helpful ways. However, when spyware authors use an LSP, it can be used to spy on the habits and data of the user. Also, because the computer will not see any of the data until the LSP lets it through, it is possible to change information so that the spyware vendor benefits. Recent examples of this include replacing the top Google search results with links to paid advertisers. These links are indistinguishable from real search results.
Worse still, because the LSP is very tightly woven into the TCP/IP layer, trying to remove it without the proper precautions may cause your computer to be unable to reconnect to the internet. In such cases, the only solution is a complete reinstallation of the operating system. For this reason, use of automated spyware removal tools is highly recommended.
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