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[GUEST POST] Everything you ever wanted to know about spyware & adware (but were afraid of the answers)

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.”

Use a tool to help detect and remove unwanted software. Some good free ones include Spybot and Ad-Aware. Get both to cover as many threats as possible.

Spyware and viruses are related and tend to travel together. If you have one on your computer, you will surely have the other soon.

Being Five comic about spyware

There is 1 comment

  1. What you said about “Read the fine print on free software”.
    You really have to be careful.
    Before you click the “I Agree” button, read the agreement.
    Although some make the agreement impossibly long just to get you to agree.
    Great Post!

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