If your homepage has been switched, you have a “new” toolbar, or your computer always pops up advertisements, you are most likely infected with spyware.
“Spyware” or “adware” are typically defined as software that tracks computer users’ actions and history. It is also used to pop up advertisements and random messages without permission. Some types of spyware allow the software to “hijack” your browser and force you to specific websites. The spyware on your computer will track which websites you visit, how often you visit, and what you do while at that site. A typical computer that is unprotected can have hundreds or thousands of spyware infected files.
Like viruses, spyware is easily downloaded unnoticed and can hide in places that most computer users won’t find. Many of these programs come quietly attached to legitimate software that you download.
There is currently legislation proposed to combat spyware, but there are issues with legitimate advertising that must be addressed before any changes are made. This legislation would bar companies from installing software that reports its users’ actions, sends any personal data to other companies, or uses any pop up ads without permission.
Some reputable anti-spyware programs such as Ad-Aware or Spybot work very well to combat spyware. There are other less known programs that are unproven or even unsafe. The latest versions of anti-virus programs now are programmed to find and eliminate spyware. It is extremely important that the software is kept up to date and run regularly.
A well maintained computer takes some effort, but once the routine is set up, you can protect yourself from intruders and malicious software. For help eliminating spyware, or any of your computing needs CONTACT US.