Spyware is software or hardware installed on a computer
without a user's knowledge. It gathers information and
reports it back to its source. It ties up bandwidth, slows
down CPU speed and generally is a nuisance.
In its more malicious forms, it can disrupt the PC so much
that it is unusable; it can run up modem bills, it can spam
or send copies of itself to everyone in your address book
and it can download pornographic material to your PC.
The last is probably the one most likely to make everyone
stand up and take notice. Downloading porn at the office
can get you fired, downloading child porn anywhere can get
The only way to keep these and all the other problems
associated with spyware from infecting your life and
disrupting your activities is prevention. As the old
saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
There are numerous programs available (both for free and
for pay) that offer protection from spyware and its related
cohorts. Most free programs remove spyware that's already
been downloaded and installed to your machine, such as Ad-
Aware, one of the first original anti-spyware programs.
The free version requires that you scan to capture and
remove spyware. The pay for version includes a real-time
scanner that actually prevents spyware from downloading or
There are numerous other products on the market, but don't
be taken in by their pronouncements of being anti-spyware.
Be wary, a few of the free programs are just spyware
Security for your PC at the home includes using up-to-date
virus software, installing an effective firewall, employing
reputable anti-spyware tools, making sure all patches and
being sure to install all updates for the operating system.
The best thing to do is to avoid risky online behavior or
the downloading of every free offer that literally "pops
Never download anything from an unknown source. A lot of
home PC users can find their machines besieged by problems
because they downloaded something they weren't sure about
or just assumed was safe. Don't assume, be sure. You can
even check security settings for different websites you
visit. Be sure what you're downloading is from a reputable
You wouldn't invite just anyone who knocked on your door
into your house; you shouldn't let any file or program into
your computer. Spyware at its best is a nuisance, and a
potentially dangerous and damaging element that can cost
you real time, and worse of all, money.
Discover all you ever wanted to know about spyware. Latest
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Tom Jenson has worked in software development for 20 years.
He's seen spyware develop from an occasional problem, to a
daily, hourly threat to all pc's. He made it a mission to
research these threats, and work out how best to combat
them. Now this series of article helps others protect
their computers too.