How to Detect Spyware on Your Computer

by Barbara J. Feldman on July 15, 2009

Most spyware is relatively harmless and won’t do much damage to your PC’s hard drive; however, some spyware applications can destroy your hard drive while stealing your valuable personal information. The biggest problem for most people is detecting spyware on a computer before does too much damage.

If you suspect your computer may be infected with spyware, there are clear signs to watch for that indicate the presence of spyware on your machine. Let’s examine some of the indications that spyware has invaded your computer system then look at ways to stay away from spyware in the future.

Common indications that you’ve got a spyware-infected computer include:

Pop ups and Advertisements: Some spyware will bombard you with pop up ads unrelated to the web site you’re visiting. If pop up ads and other advertisements appear on your desktop as soon as you turn your computer on, when you’re not yet surfing the net, it’s a good indicator that you have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.

Setting changes: Some spyware will change or edit your home page or your browser settings, which means you won’t recognize the page you are immediately taken to when you connect to the internet. Worse yet, when you reset your settings and hit the ‘apply’ button, your settings immediately revert back to something you don’t recognize.

A slow computer: When your computer takes a long time to go from page to page when you’re online, it is very likely you have spyware on your computer. The programs that spyware uses to track activities and record information can clog up your computer, slowing its operations dramatically. Spyware also creates fake files and other errors within your operating system that can cause your computer to crash or become unstable. If you notice your computer running slower than normal, or if certain programs crash with greater frequency than usual, these are classic indicators of the presence of spyware on your computer.

Protecting yourself from spyware is extremely important. With the internet so widely available today, users and their machines are more susceptible to all sorts of viruses, spyware and other malicious content than ever before. So, now that you know what to look for when trying to detect spyware on your computer, the next critical question is: how do you protect your machine from it?

Helpful suggestions for spyware-proofing your computer include:

Be mindful of what you download. Unscrupulous programs do not always come from unscrupulous sites. If you’re looking for free downloads then make sure the sites are reputable. Also, if the site you’re planning to download from is overloaded with a variety of ads, it is best not to download from those sites.

Read before you click. Sometimes when you visit websites, random ads that won’t go away pop up so you click on the yes or ok buttons just to make them go away. Do not do this as you could be installing a spyware program without even knowing it. Either close them from the Task Manager bar or from the pop up bar under the ‘Tools’ tab on your browser.

Protect your computer. When you install anti-spyware software on your computer, make sure the program detects and blocks spyware and that it’s not just an anti-virus program, as you want overall protection. There are many professional software programs available that will protect your system from spyware or adware in real time.

Scan your computer system. In spite of your efforts using antivirus software and firewalls, some spyware may still penetrate these ‘walls’ and infect your system. Make sure you buy a program that will not only monitor your system in real time but has the flexibility to allow you to perform manual scans periodically.

Hopefully these hints on how to detect spyware on your computer and how to protect yourself from it will keep you protected from hackers and other potentially dangerous spyware out.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "How to Detect Spyware on Your Computer." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 15 Jul. 2009. Web. 1 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1444/how-to-detect-spyware-on-your-computer/ >.


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