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What is Spyware?

 What is it?  For advertising companies the Internet is, aside from television, a great medium to reach a very large target audience. Spyware is a kind of software used by such companies that when installed on your computer, can do various things to invade your space and your privacy. Though this software is installed without your consent, it is not designed to cause damage but it may slow down your computer considerably.    

How does it work?  When spyware is installed on your computer, it may be designed to send pop-up windows, redirect your browser to other websites, it may monitor what websites you visit and the products you’re interested in and send you unwanted advertisements. Your privacy is being compromised because you have no control over who gathers this information, you don’t know how it is used or who is actually seeing it.

How does it happen?  Spyware could be installed in a number of ways. A common trap is installing downloadable software from the Internet that is offered for free e.g. games for your children to play. This doesn’t mean that buying a computer game in a store is a safe bet either. Installing it is also a way to invite spyware to be applied to your machine. Some music DVD’s offer free video’s or screensavers to be installed on your computer. Clicking on pop-up windows is also often a trap.    

How do I know it’s there?  You might find that your browser window is suddenly changed even though you didn’t change it, or you’re being bombarded with pop-up windows. You may be redirected to a website that you didn’t mean to go to error messages may begin to appear, or when you try to do work on the computer you might find that it has become very sluggish in completing the task.

What can I do?  Try to get into the habit to avoid installing spyware on your machine following these tips:

As always, if you have issues please don’t hesitate to call the IT Service Desk at 678-839-6587 or email servicedesk@westga.edu.