Identifying Spyware

Written By: Shawn Shellenbarger

How do you go about identifying spyware to ensure your computer stays clean? It can be difficult to determine what spyware is because many legitimate business websites may have what could be considered spyware on their websites that are tracking devices or a gimmick to get computer users to return to the site. Turning off your computer would be the only surefire way to protect yourself from encountering any spyware, but since that is not an option for many who use computers on a daily basis for work and even for keeping in contact with those in their personal life, being knowledge about spyware and being able to identify spyware is the next best step.

There are many symptoms of your computer having spyware that you may not notice if you arent an experienced or regular computer user. If you are not working on your computer or downloading any new programs but it sounds like the machine is really working hard, usually with a loud whirling noise, this may mean that spyware is working on your computer. Have you noticed strange icons on the Start menu or on your desktop? More often than not these can be related to a spyware virus that has managed to install itself onto your computer. Spyware viruses can also access your computer through your email account and can even access your address book and send out information to others using your account information. Check your junk mailbox to see if you have strangely returned emails or your sent box for evidence of email being sent without your knowledge. These are good places to begin recognizing and identifying spyware.

Some spyware viruses do not even bother to hide themselves and can easily be found by going into the Control Panel and then Add/Remove Programs and looking for names or programs you do not recognize. Unfortunately it is not always possible to remove the spyware simply by pressing remove, because often the spyware virus has found other ways to infiltrate your system. But this can give you an idea of what is on your computer, so when you use your spyware protection you can recognize if that spyware has been removed.

Other places to look for spyware is in pop-up ads while you are on the internet. Many people often get the impression that these pop-ups are just a harmless nuisance but many times these ads can be spyware disguised as pop-up advertisements. There are ads related to the site you landed on, for instance if you go to your bank account website, they may throw up a pop-up advertisement for a good deal on a mortgage. This ad is usually related to the actual website and is only an advertising gimmick. It may be a nuisance but these pop-ups will not necessarily mean your computer is infected with a spyware virus. On the other hand, if you go to your bank account and an advertisement for adult entertainment pops up, you should be suspicious that this advertisement is not related to your bank account and may mean you have spyware on your computer.

Once you have identified that there is potential spyware on your computer, the best measure is to get a personal firewall, anti-virus protection, anti-spam and even spyware protection. Even if you get just anti-virus protection this does not ensure that you are safe from spyware and vice versa. It is important to install all of these protections on your computer to ensure that spyware does not get by and create major complications on your computer. Spyware can severely slow down the processing of your computer and can even prevent you from using certain programs if you let it get out of hand. If you begin noticing your computer slowing down and lots of strange functions occurring without you requesting them, this may mean that you have spyware problems and need to check for spyware and have your system cleaned soon and then on a regular basis.

If you ever go online to check account information, remember to always check any accounts you use online regularly to ensure that they have not been tampered with. Check regularly to make sure there are no changes, account withdrawals of otherwise that you did not verify. Just because you cannot see the spyware on your computer, does not mean it is not there, so always take extra measures to protect your important account information.

It is also helpful to be aware of the names of spyware to help you identify them. There are many helpful websites and downloadable software protection programs that provide important information about the names of spyware and viruses that could be infesting your computer. Take time to go to these sites and be aware of the names of spyware, that way if a suspicious program or file turns up on your computer, you will know to immediately take care of the problem.
Shawn Shellenbarger
Maximum Software

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