Spyware / Adware
Spyware is software that is installed on your computer without your knowledge, and is used to steal your personal information. This information can include web browsing habits, e-mail addresses, credit card numbers, and more. It is installed on your computer automatically when you download seemingly innocent free software. Spyware then sends information about you to the software distributor. Usually the information sent is benign in nature, mostly concerning general marketing information.
Adware is advertising-supported software. It is software that can be downloaded free from the Web, but contains banner advertisements that create revenue for the company. Adware is software that is installed on your computer the same way spyware is, but it’s used for less harmful applications. Adware can change your home page, add extra bookmarks to your web browser, put advertisements on your desktop, and change your search results on Internet search engines like Yahoo and Google to advertisements.
Symptoms of Problems
Computers that have Spyware running may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Internet browser crashes frequently
- Computer runs slower
- Computer takes longer to start up
- “Illegal Operation” errors occur
- Pop-up advertisements appear when you are offline
- The default homepage of your browser changes without your knowledge
The best way to prevent Spyware/Adware from being installed is to not let websites add programs to your computer. Most Adware is installed when a pop-up appears, while you are browsing the Internet, asking you to click "ok" to install a piece of software to "help" you. Most of this software is Adware and it will definitely not help you.
If you already have Spyware or Adware on your computer, a helpful tool to get rid of it is a program called "Adaware" available at www.lavasoftusa.com . This is a free tool that will get rid of almost all Adware and Spyware.