Beware Of Spyware -- Steps To Take To Protect Your Computer

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Spyware refers to malicious software that takes partial control of a computer's operation through unauthorized access without the computers owners' knowledge or consent, and has become one of the biggest security threats to computer users today.

Spyware exploits infected computers for commercial gain, usually by including unsolicited pop-up advertisements; by monitoring the users' online activities; by routing http requests to advertising sites; or by stealing personal information such as financial information. In fact, it is estimated that identity-thieves have stolen over US$ 24 billion worth of account information in the United States alone.

Spyware most often infects a computer by piggybacking on a desirable software and the user unknowingly downloading and installing it. Spyware also often lurks in rogue anti-spyware programs that pretend to be security software. Spyware also comes bundled with shareware or other downloadable software and music CDs.

Yet another method of distributing spyware involves tricking computer users by manipulating security features designed to prevent unwanted installations. For example, surfers using the Internet Explorer web browser may unwittingly click on a command prompt that appears to be a Windows dialog box, when in actual fact it initiates the spyware download.

With the spyware threat worsening, several anti-spyware programs have emerged that are designed to counteract or remove spyware. Programs such as Ad-Aware SE and Spybot - Search & Destroy are some of the more popular and effective tools to remove and intercept spyware programs. Microsoft has also released Windows AntiSpyware to combat the spyware problem. Other popular anti-spyware programs include Spy Sweeper, Spyware Doctor, XoftSpy, and CounterSpy.

Anti-virus firms Symantec, McAfee and Sophos, while reluctant initially to add anti-spyware features to their anti-virus products, have finally added anti-spyware features to the recent versions of their anti-virus products.

Computer users have also become savvier in detecting spyware. Many users now install a web browser other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), such as Opera or Mozilla Firefox which are not as vulnerable as IE is to spyware - though that is not to say that Opera and Firefox have not suffered from similar security vulnerabilities. No one single browser is 100% safe, as "security" all depends on the person using the browser.

Some internet service providers, especially colleges and universities, block spyware by using their network firewalls and web proxies to block access to Web sites known to install spyware.

Spyware sometimes hide in shareware programs offered for download, so downloading programs only from reputable sources provides some protection from this source of attack.


Nick Niesen

About the Author

Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
Articles Posted: 33,847

The ONLY Vital Credit Card
Earn 5% Cash Back on all of your purchases plus additional cashback for sharing the offer with your friends and family! This is the ONLY credit card you need! Competitive APR's, No annual fee, Elegant Metal Card Design!
CryptoKnight Capital - Earn Crypto on Auto-Pilot!
Start investing safely in crypto when you follow our automated cryptocurrency trading portfolios. Let us do the work and earn you money!
Claim 1 FREE Stock! No Purchase Necessary!
You have a 100% chance of receiving one free stock! Click to claim and have a chance to get one share of Facebook, Visa, Microsoft and others for free!
FREE App - Earn up to 25/gal cash back on gas!
Download this FREE app and earn cash-back when you buy gas, groceries and food! 100% FREE to join and FREE to earn cash back on your everyday purchases!
Quality Office Furniture USA Shipped Direct - Madison Liquidators
Nationwide vendor of quality office furnishings including Desks, Office Chairs, Conference Tables, Cubicles and more!
Earn HNT Tokens with a Helium Hotspot!
Pre-Order a Helium hotspot and earn HNT tokens that are redeemable for USD. Set it and forget it!