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:
- Be aware that the free downloadable software may expose your machine to spyware.
- Don’t click on pop-up windows. To close a pop-up window, click on the “X” in the title bar rather than in the window itself.
- Use a browser that offers the option to block or limit pop-up windows. You can also adjust the settings within the browser you’re using already.
- Adjust your browser’s privacy settings to only allow cookies for the web site you are visiting.
- Don’t answer unexpected questions that pop up.
- When unexpected dialog boxes appear, always select "no" or "cancel," or simply close the dialog box by clicking the "X" icon in the title bar.
- Periodically check your machine by running a scan for spyware. You can do this by using your anti-virus software and/ or a product that is designed to remove spyware such as Spybot.
As always, if you have issues please don’t hesitate to call the IT Service Desk at 678-839-6587 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.