Protecting Your Computer From Spyware

What is Adware?

Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. The authors of these applications include additional code that delivers the ads, which can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. 

adware

What is Spyware?

Spyware, similar to Trojan Horse, is a malicious program that users unwittingly install the product when they install something else. Once installed, the spyware can monitor the user on their Internet activities and transmit information, such as users'email addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers, to someone else in the background. 

spyware

How do you get Adware/Spyware on your computer?

Adware and spyware can be loaded onto your computer any number of ways without your knowledge.  Adware can get onto your computer via freeware or shareware - as a ligitimate way of helping recover programming development cost and hold down the cost for the user, or from a visit to an infected website. Free programs like weather programs, games, or file sharing programs that you download and install frequently contain spyware. Spyware can also be installed using Internet Explorer's ActiveX. Active X is Microsoft's equivalent to Sun's Java program and is sometimes required to view certain pages on the web. It allows web sites to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent.

What does Adware/Spyware do?

  • Tracks personal information such as web browsing history
  • Generates pop-up ads associated with sites you frequent.
  • Generates spam e-mail associated with sites you frequent.
  • Slows down your computer or causes your computer to freeze.

More information about adware and spyware on webopedia.com

How to remove adware or spyware?

  • Download and run an adware or spyware removal program
  • Set your browser settings to appropriate security levels 
  • Use antivirus software and update it regularly
  • Do not download suspicious programs, and check programs before you install them. Websites that pop up messages asking you to download software should not be trusted unless you know what that software is or unless you requested it. Often, choosing the "advanced" or "custom" install for software will allow you to de-select components and you can remove adware and spyware from the installation process
  • Use a software firewall to help control which applications can send or receive data. This can help you prevent a spyware or adware program from contacting its owner and transmitting your personal information, and can also tell you if you are sending that information

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