Spyware is a form of malicious code that extends beyond the scope of tracking and logging your activities. Spyware puts you at risk by collecting your personal information. The presence of spyware on your computer system also interferes with the normal operation of your operating system, web browser and other software. The best spyware protection for your computer system is found in one of many spyware protection software products available. However, you should be very cautious when installing any type of new software or installing an update to existing software. If these installations are not from trusted sources, you should reject any offer of installing new applications until you research the source and necessity of the installation. You should also avoid buttons included in pop-up ads that encourage you to download software. These buttons, such as “Cancel” and “No Thanks”, often link to a spyware installation. In fact, selecting any button in an ad window generated by spyware may cause spyware to download. If you use a dial-up modem, spyware may hijack your modem as you attempt to connect to the Internet and force a series of toll and overseas calls at your expense.
To protect your system against spyware, you should read the license agreement that accompanies software or research the vendor and the vendor’s practice of providing software. Many websites, such as Symantec, provide information on software and vendors that have a history of embedding spyware and adware in their software. Some vendors also advertise the bundling of software packages on their websites. Though a basic software package may be harmless, additional bundled contents may contain spyware. The additional content is usually marketed as an upgrade or improvement to the basic software. Many times, spyware vendors pay otherwise legitimate software vendors to bundle their infectious content. In other instance, spyware vendors repackage legitimate software with spyware. Spyware protection is always compromised with the installation of free software, particularly free file sharing software. Vendors of this type of free software use adware as a form of advertisement to may make money. In addition to installing unwanted software, spyware may clutter your desktop with icons for the programs that you did not intend to install.
Some spyware includes adware. As such, a pop-up blocker may be installed for added spyware protection. Pop-up blockers are provided as part of most browsers. Most pop-up blockers may be configured to run all the time and alert you when a site attempts to initiate a pop-up or they may be configured to allow pop-ups from trusted and selective sites or web pages. Spyware may also be downloaded with ActiveX applications. Most web browsers will allow you to disable ActiveX. By disabling Active X, you get the best spyware protection from ActiveX downloads, but you may also loose some functionality on websites that make legitimate use of ActiveX controls.
Spyware protection should be initiated by an update of your chosen anti spyware software to ensure that you have the latest threat definitions and a full scan of your computer system. Scan reports should be fully understood before actually deleting any included files. If, possible, your anti spyware software should be configured to allow files to be quarantined rather than deleted so that they may be restored if necessary. You should run scans more frequently if your computer system is high-risk. High-risk systems are systems used for downloads, network communication or visiting porn and casino sites. The most effective spyware protection will detect spyware and also prevent it from running.
Some spyware is sophisticated enough to rerun infectious programs and processes after they have been terminated or to re-create infectious registry entries that have been removed. If your computer is already infected with spyware, booting your system in safe mode or preventing unnecessary processes from running at start-up provides your chosen anti spyware software a better chance of detecting some of the more robust spyware code that tries to resist termination.
The U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act establishes that unauthorized access to a computer is illegal. However, spyware vendors insist that they are granted access to your computer system through your acceptance of their software license agreement. A few states and some jurisdictions have also passed laws that regard actions with spyware, such as using it to control someone’ else’s computer, to be illegal. The problem with laws regarding spyware is that there is no established or general consensus for what is to be considered acceptable or unacceptable software behavior.