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Avoiding Spyware And Malware Attacks

May 18, 2008
Spyware and other types of malware are more than just a pain in the neck - they can cause other programs to malfunction and even make your computer unstable. And of course there's all the privacy issues that go along with it.

These pieces of software are generally installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent. They often can't be removed without some kind of specialized software. If you need to be tricked into installing it, chances are you can't trust the source.

The first line of defense against spyware is to be careful installing software. Know what's being downloaded. A large percentage of freeware or shareware programs have spyware embedded in them. Sometimes that's disclosed in the user agreement, but often not.

Before downloading any new software, look for guarantees that it's spyware free. Even so, be on your guard - the file-sharing program Kazaa has been claiming to be spyware-free for years. Anyone who installs this software soon has an opportunity to test this claim.

What are the signs of a spyware infection? Odd pop-up advertising, a new homepage when you didn't change it, new toolbars that you didn't install or your computer is responding slowly or rebooting randomly all of a sudden, to name a few.

If you do get infected with spyware, there are ways to get rid of it. A number of companies make software designed to get rid of it. These programs will scan your computer and check through their database of known spyware for any matches. These databases get updated frequently as new forms of spyware are found.

Many are free, though sometimes the paid versions have more automation features such as removing spyware on receipt rather than requiring a manual scan. None will find every piece of spyware on your system, since they rely on a database which has to be populated according to someone's judgment. And, one man's spyware is sometimes another's welcomed advertiser.

Some kinds of spyware are notoriously difficult to get rid of. They may make changes to your Windows files that help them hide from the scanners. On occasion, you may need to delete them manually to be sure they're gone.

Needless to say, this should be performed only by skilled users. Deleting the wrong files can damage your programs and even your operating system.

Once your system is spyware free - help keep it that way. Some of the spyware removal tools include utilities that can protect your computer from being exposed to spyware. Much like virus scanners, they monitor changes to your system files and alert you of any suspicious activity.

Of course, you need to always be wary of anything you download. You never know when there is going to be a significant cost to that free software that looks so cool.
About the Author
How can you keep yourself safe from viruses, spyware, identity theft and other online security attacks ? You don't need to be a technical genius to be safe. Learn the insider secrets that will keep your computer safe at http://www.onlinesecuritytoolkit.com
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