Spyware is computer software that is deposited on a user’s computer and secretly collects personal information (sites that you have visited, etc), interferes with computer operations (installing additional software, adds or removes icons/programs, etc), and can also provide your personnel information to third party advertisers. All of this is accomplished without your consent! Most people are still unaware that spyware is easily downloaded when users’ click on links within an email, download free/shared programs, or click on a pop-up ads, etc. Also, spyware is a large factor in corrupting computer programs and can be difficult to remove.

 Signs that spyware is possibly has infected your computer:

  • Numerous pop-ups
  • Redirected browser: takes you to alternate sites different than the web address you typed in the URL box.
  • An abrupt or repetitive change in your computer's Internet home page
  • New and unexpected toolbars/icons/programs (in your system tray or on your desktop)
  • Random warning/error messages
  • Sluggish or slow performance when opening/closing / saving program files
 In addition, spyware can be linked to identity theft; it has the ability to record your passwords and personal information and send it to third party malicious web sites.  Identity theft is a key reason for utilizing precautionary steps to help reduce the probability of being infected with spyware.

Common precautionary steps are:


  • Do not visit web pages that are not secure / trusted
  • Automatically update your operating system and Web browser software
  • Use and automatically update firewalls, anti-virus / anti-spyware software
  • Set your browser security to block automatic downloads
  • Automatically delete spam it may contain spyware
  • Read the license agreement before downloading free software; they frequently bundle spyware. If you don’t trust it don’t install it!
  • Don't click on links inside pop-ups; instead close the pop-up by clicking on the “X.”  Clicking on “No” or “Cancel” can install spyware
  • Back up important files before attempting to remove any spyware.
If you believe your computer has spyware on it:

1. Stop using it
2. Locate a spyware removal program (and try to remove it)
3. If the spyware is difficult to remove, take the computer to a reputable 
    computer repair shop.
4. Notify the authorities by sending a report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Remember, utilizing precautionary steps ensures the computer will stay spyware free!