An Overview of Spyware

06 Sep

Do you have problems getting online, or does your browser seem like it's slowing down? Do you see annoying pop-up ads displayed in your browser? Do some of your desktop programs crash out of the blue? And, would you love to know why you are getting so much spam?

If you are like me, you said "yes" to all of these questions, your computer might be infected with spyware. This article will give you some information so you can know how to eliminate spyware and the problems that accompany it. Find out best spy cameras by clicking on checking devices.

Spyware's Origins

Back in the early 2000s, a few crafty advertisers realized they could sell their stuff to you more easily if they knew more about you. Most advertisers are interested in fairly generic information such as your age, gender, economic status and so on. However, this craftier breed of advertiser figured out followed your Internet activities closely, they would learn which websites you visit. In other words, by watching your browsing habits, they could learn whether you like music or sports, find out where you buy things, know how you pay for things you buy, and even know the exact type of new car you're shopping for.

The Problems Spyware Presents

Spyware presents at least three big problems. First, computer users aren't given the option to leave these monitoring programs. No one even asks for your authorization when they install spyware onto your computer, so spyware is definitely an invasion of privacy. The second problem is the way spyware affects your PC's performance. Even if the advertiser asked our permission to install their spyware, you'd tell the company to turn it off as soon as your PC starts to slow down. The third and biggest problem is that there aren't any limits on the amount or type of information spyware is able to collect and transmit back to its programmer or owner. Credit card numbers, bank account information, passwords, social security numbers - the list is endless. In short, spyware can steal your financial identity.

Spyware is Nearly Universal

Here's a scary thought: Research has determined that more than eight out of every ten computers have had problems with spyware. According to this research, some computers have almost 100 spyware applications running at the same time, and most of the owners of these computers never even realized their systems had been invaded by "spies." Users rarely give anyone authorization to spy on their computing activities.

The Way Spyware Operates

Spyware infiltrates your computer through what you think is a reputable source of downloads. Some examples are listed below. Once installed, spyware starts collecting and recording your activity and sometimes your keystrokes, eventually transmitting this information back to the spyware's owner.

Potential sources of downloaded spyware:

  • Applications that boost the performance of your computer
  • Downloads of coupons and other 'freebees' such as images, screen savers and animated graphics
  • "Click here to update your software" messages displayed on your screen for software drivers or video encoders
  • MP3 music sharing applications
  • Even spyware removal software. This one is the most clever (and ironic) of all - you think you're downloading a free application to remove your spyware and instead you download new, disguised spyware onto your computer.

Symptoms of a Spyware Infection:

  • Your browser insists on displaying annoying pop-up ads
  • The home page of your browser changes on its own
  • New browser toolbars suddenly appear
  • Your desktop displays new icons
  • Your browser goes to unfamiliar websites - without you telling it to.

How to Confirm a Spyware Infection:

Find, download and run a spyware removal tool. Many online spyware blockers are available so remember, you should only download files from a source you know and trust. Read forum posts, product reviews and blogs to learn exactly who your free spyware blocker is coming from. Personally, I run the most popular computer security providers like PC Tools, Symantec / Norton and McAfee.

Once you obtain a spyware removal application from a reputable, trusted vendor, use it to scan your computer. The scan will let you know whether your computer has any spyware infections. Most spyware vendors provide a free scanning service and will, in turn, offer to sell you the spyware removal software which corrects your computer's problems immediately, while other vendors sell their anti-spyware products.

Spyware Blockers

Spyware will still make attempts to install itself on your computer, even when you're careful about your software downloads. For that reason, I strongly recommend that you find an anti-spyware software product that includes a spyware blocker- a firewall. This very important tool will shield your computer from spyware downloads.

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