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Anti Spyware / Adware Tips
Spyware is a general term used for software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent.
These unwanted software will make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer slow down or crash. These programs have the ability to change your Web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. These programs also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you originally had them. These types of unwanted programs are also often called spyware.
Last Updated - 2nd January 2007
There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your system. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file sharing program. Whenever you are installing something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it may appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.
How do You detect Spyware ?
If your computer starts to behave strangely or displays any of the symptoms listed below, you may have spyware or other unwanted software installed on your computer.
- You see pop-up advertisements all the time. Some unwanted software will bombard you with pop-up ads that aren't related to a particular Web site you're visiting. These ads are often for adult or other Web sites you may find objectionable. If you see pop-up ads as soon as you turn on your computer or when you're not even browsing the Web, you may have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.
- Your settings have changed and you can't change them back to the way they were. Some unwanted software have the ability to change your home page or search page settings. This means that the page that opens first when you start your Internet browser or the page that appears when you select "search" may be pages that you do not recognize. Even if you know how to adjust these settings, you may find that they revert back every time you restart your computer.
- The Web browser contains additional components that you don't remember downloading. Spyware and other unwanted software can add additional toolbars to your Web browser that you don't want or need. Even if you know how to remove these toolbars, they may return each time you restart your computer.
- Your computer seems sluggish. Spyware and other unwanted software are not necessarily designed to be efficient. The resources these programs use to track your activities and deliver advertisements can slow down your computer and errors in the software can make your computer crash. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of times a certain program crashes, or if your computer is slower than normal at performing routine tasks, you may have spyware or other unwanted software on your machine.
To remove spyware
- Use Spyware removal tools.
- Run the tool to scan your computer for spyware and other unwanted software.
- Review the files discovered by the tool for spyware and other unwanted software.
- Select suspicious files for removal by following the tool's instructions.
- Update your software
If you use Windows XP, one way to help prevent spyware and other unwanted software is to make sure all your software is updated. First, visit Microsoft Update to confirm that you have Automatic Updates turned on and that you've downloaded all the latest critical and security updates.
- Adjust Internet Explorer security settings
You can adjust your Internet Explorer Web browser's security settings to determine how muchor how littleinformation you are willing to accept from a Web site. Microsoft recommends that you set the security settings for the Internet zone to Medium or higher.
- To view your current Internet Explorer security settings:
- In Internet Explorer, click Tools and then click Internet Options.
- Select the Security tab
- If you're running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and you use Internet Explorer to browse the Web, your browser security settings for the Internet zone are already set to Medium by default. Internet Explorer in Windows XP SP2 also includes a number of features to help protect against spyware and many other kinds of deceptive or unwanted software.
- Don't know which version of Windows your computer is running? Find out.
- Use a firewall
While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled with other programs or originate from unscrupulous Web sites, a small amount of spyware can actually be placed on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall or using the firewall that's built into Windows XP provides a helpful defense against these hackers.
- Surf and download more safely
The best defense against spyware and other unwanted software is not to download it in the first place. Here are a few helpful tips that can protect you from downloading software you don't want:
- Only download programs from Web sites you trust. If you're not sure whether to trust a program you are considering downloading, ask a knowledgeable friend or enter the name of the program into your favorite search engine to see if anyone else has reported that it contains spyware.
- Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download.
- Never click "agree" or "OK" to close a window. Instead, click the red "x" in the corner of the window or press the Alt + F4 buttons on your keyboard to close a window.
- Be wary of popular "free" music and movie file-sharing programs, and be sure you clearly understand all of the software packaged with those programs
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