Monday, July 1, 2013

What is Spyware?

Summertime 2013 Tech Tip #2

One of the most common problems computer users deal with is Spyware. The threat of Spyware infecting your PC is becoming more real everyday. It is easier then ever for your PC to become a victim of Spyware. What is Spyware anyway?
Spyware is a type of software that is installed on your computer to watch and record your activity. Some types of spyware record your keystrokes and information that you type into websites or other programs and then use that information for targeted advertising or identity theft. These programs can be installed on your computer in many ways, but often they are hidden inside of software such as free games, screen savers, or animated cursors.
Here are some signs that your computer might be infected with spyware:
  • You notice new toolbars, links, or favorites that you didn't intentionally add to your web browser.
  • Your home page, mouse pointer, or search program changes unexpectedly.
  • You type the address of a specific website into your web browser, but you're taken to a completely unrelated website.
  • You see pop-up ads, even if your computer isn't connected to the Internet.
  • Your computer suddenly starts running slowly. Not all computer performance problems are caused by spyware, but spyware can cause a noticeable change.
Sometimes, your computer will show no symptoms, even if a spyware program is running. To help protect your privacy and your computer, I recommend that you run Windows Defender or another antispyware program at all times.
What if Spyware is on your PC?
If you have spyware or other potentially unwanted software on your computer, you should use an antispyware scanner and removal tool to try to remove it. You can also try to remove spyware manually. You might need to use both of these methods more than once to completely remove the spyware or other potentially unwanted software.
Spyware can sometimes be hard to remove. If an antispyware program notifies you that it can't remove spyware, follow the instructions provided by the antispyware program. If that doesn't work, try these options:
  • Try installing an antivirus or another antispyware program. Many antivirus programs also come with antispyware protection.
Sadly sometimes even the most trained and well informed computer experts cannot remove a well entrenched and hidden piece of spyware. Some spyware can hide itself so well that it can't be removed. If you still see evidence of spyware after trying to remove it with an antispyware program or after trying to uninstall it using Control Panel, you might need to reinstall Windows and your programs.

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