Spyware are secret programs that snuck into your computer’s operating system at the same time you download other things. Most of the time, they get into your computer through freeware and shareware. They can hurt your PC and your personal life because they keep track of everything you do on the computer and sometimes scan the files on your hard drive. This secretly gathered information is sent back to the person who made the Spyware.
Spyware will make it harder for you to browse the Internet and load pages from different websites. It will slow down the way your programs load and run and may even cause your computer to crash. This can lead to much spam in your email inboxes and can also be used to steal your identity by using the personal information it gets from your computer.
• A slow PC would be the first sign that Spyware has infected your computer.
• You may find that some toolbars have been added to your web browser that you don’t remember adding. This is another sign that a Spyware program or programs have been put on your computer.
• Pop-ups on your browser windows that have nothing to do with the site you’re on are another sign of a Spyware infection, even if your pop-up blocker is on.
• If you notice that your programs, files, or browser settings have been changed, that’s another sign to keep an eye out for. This is especially true if you reset the settings and they don’t stay the same when you close and reopen the files/programs or restart your PC completely.
• If your computer seems to be acting on its own by opening and closing files and programs, sliding out and then closing its CD door, and doing other strange things, you may have Spyware on your computer.
• If you open your email box and see that half of the messages you sent came back as “undeliverable” or that emails you didn’t write were sent on your behalf, that’s another sign of Spyware.
• Another sign that you have Spyware is if your modem’s activity light stays on even when you’re not connected to the Internet. And if your system light is flashing on and off, that’s another sign.
• Someone using your personal information to steal from you is the worst-case scenario. If you get a credit card bill or bank statement and there are things on it that you can’t figure out, one of the first places you should look is your computer.
The best way to keep Spyware from infecting your PC is to be very careful when downloading free files, programs, music, etc., from the Internet and ensure that everyone who uses the computer does the same. Install anti-spyware software and keep it running to scan your system for unwanted programs.