Spyware is a software that gathers and reports information about a computer
user without the user's knowledge or consent. More broadly, the term spyware
can refer to a wide range of related malware products which fall outside
the strict definition of spyware. These products perform many different
functions, including the delivery of unsolicited advertising (pop-up ads
in particular), harvesting private information, re-routing page requests
to fraudulently claim commercial site referral fees, and installing stealth
Spyware programs make money for their publishers by reporting your Internet
travels and sending you advertisements. Some also report your name, e-mail
address, and other personal information.
Signs of Spyware
1. If 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.
2. Your settings have changed and you can't change them back to
the way they were. Some unwanted software has 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.
3. Your Web browser contains additional components that you haven't
downloaded. 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
4. Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.
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.
Downloads that may contain spyware
• Free games downloaded from the Internet
• Music, movies, and other software file-sharing programs
• Animated characters for your desktop
• Free screen savers downloaded from the Internet
• Toolbars for your Internet browser
• Free pop-up blockers that appear on your computer when you are online
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