Shawn Walsh is the Technology Analyst for NEO-RLS.
What are spyware and adware, anyway?
Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running.
How did I get this on my computer?
Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. However, some spyware can be installed without the user’s consent, as a “drive-by download,” or as the result of clicking some option in a deceptive pop-up window.
What could/does spyware do?
Common examples include:
- Monitor and record your keystrokes
- Collect information about you and your surfing habits
- Modify your system settings
- Redirect your browser
- Leave a backdoor open for hackers & viruses
- Install other programs directly onto your PC
- Load adult-orientated images on your PC
- Dial a service (if you still have a modem), for which you will be billed!
What does this mean to me, Shawn?
- Spyware is an unfortunate part of Internet life now, and the best offense is a good defense. Here are some things you can do to prevent spyware:
- Keep Windows and your antivirus software up to date
- Install software only from Web sites you trust
- Read the fine print on free software. “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
Spyware and viruses are related and tend to travel together. If you have one on your computer, you will surely have the other soon.