Have you ever downloaded something and then suddenly your computer slows down and starts acting weird? Maybe your homepage on your web browser got changed or you suddenly get pop-up ads that appear on your screen. If anything like this has happened to you then you have probably picked up some spyware. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent spyware on your computer.
Spyware and its sister programs like adware are just another dangerous obstacle on the sea that is the internet. While they may not be quite as destructive to your system as a computer virus, they can still have harmful effects. When I got them on my computer it drove me nuts. I finally went down to the local computer center and asked “How do I prevent spyware on my computer?” Here are some tips that I learned.
What Is Spyware And How Did I Get It
Spyware is a software program that is similar to a virus. It can get you’re your computer system through a variety of means. Once it is downloaded, the program can search through your computer and collect and send back any personal information to another user. This information can be anything personal such as passwords, account numbers, internet tracking, and user names. This is where it gets the name ‘spyware’ from because someone out there is spying on you. Spyware is a common tool of people committing identity theft and can cause you serious harm. Spyware is also used by certain companies and businesses to send unsolicited advertisements through spam emails and pop-ups. Some of these such companies may even sell your email to another party for further advertising and spam lists.
Spyware can be received through careless downloading or by clicking on a link in an email. When you download a file, spyware can be attched to the program. It can be included in some freeware that is available on numerous sites. You can also get infected with spyware when you click on a link in an email, especially if it is spam email. Instead of sending you to a linked webpage, clicking the link actually automatically downloads the spyware to your computer.
What Are Some Ways To Protect Against Spyware
Another good way to protect your computer against spyware is to read the disclosure agreements before downloading any files, particularly freeware. Most of these agreements will state that a spyware program is included in the package.
Think twice before clicking on any links, either in emails from unknown senders or on webpages. These links may be more than just a quick link to another page or site. These links may trigger an automatic download of spyware.
A pop-up blocker is handy to have. It may be included in your anti-spyware software or you may have to get it separately. Pop-up blockers do just what they say. They prevent pop-up windows from appearing on your screen.
Most spyware is included with other software and programs but some spyware can be inserted into your computer by remote from a hacker. To prevent this from happening, keep your firewall updated and activated. A firewall will prevent any intrusion from outside sources.
Be careful from where you download files to your computer. You should always be sure that the site is reliable and one that you trust. If the site appears to have been put together in a hurry and there is not a number of visitors per day (although that can be faked, too) then you should avoid any downloads.
And lastly, you should always keep your computer software updated. Update your spyware and anti-virus programs to keep them current. Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows should also be updated regularly. Make sure that you have Automatic Updates turned on for Windows so that your computer can download the latest in security updates.
What To Do If You Get Spyware On Your Computer
Chances are you have some spyware on your computer right now and you are not aware of it. Most people do in one form or another. Getting rid of spyware is easier than getting rid of something like a virus or a worm. All you need is a good spyware removal program. A couple of good ones are Ad-Aware, Spybot, and Spy Sweeper. Allof these programs work basically the same. They scan your computer’s disk, files, and documents, searching for any spyware or adware. Once it detects it, it quarantines the spyware. You can then go in an eliminate it completely and safely from your computer.