Spyware (also known as Adware), is software that may be installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge, usually while surfing web sites or while installing one of the many free applications available online (known as “freeware” or “shareware”). Spyware also gathers information about your web surfing habits. A spyware application will seldom notify you that it has been installed or what information it is sending. In many cases, spyware will cause “pop-ups” or ad banners to be displayed on your screen while you are connected to the Internet.
Unsolicited commercial software (spyware) can typically:
- Watch everything you do on-line and send information back to marketing companies. This is the “spy” part of ‘spyware’
- Add advertising links to web pages (for which the web page author does not get paid) and redirect the payments from affiliate fee schemes to the makers of the software
- Set your browser’s home page and search settings to point to the software developers’ sites (generally loaded with advertising) and prevent you from your home page
- Make your dial-up modem call premium-rate phone number ‘dialers’. The telephone numbers called are usually either in the Caribbean or in Africa, where the toll rates are unregulated
- Inundate you with unwanted advertising called ‘adware’
- Slow your system performance and cause system errors
- Provide no uninstall feature, and place its code in unexpected and hidden places which makes it difficult to remove
- Create security risks, allowing the developers of the software or others to download and run software on your computer
- Spyware can often have malicious purposes such as allowing a computer to be controlled remotely, or to be used as a means to distribute unsolicited email
Some freeware programs you might install on your computer are ‘bundled’ with spyware programs. File-sharing programs like iMesh and Kazaa are notorious for this.
Sometimes, sites (or pop-up ads) try to fool you into clicking ‘Yes’ by stating that the advertised software is required to view a particular site. You may also experience numerous “error” windows if you click ‘No’ on a particular ad. Rather than click on an unknown ad, you should click the “X” in the far right-hand corner of the window to close down unwanted ads or pop-up windows.
Note: You should never click ‘Yes’ to a “Do you wish to download and install…” prompt unless you are 100% positive that you trust the publisher of the software. Read the dialogue box very carefully before clicking on the ‘Yes’ button.
You can also do your best to guard against spyware by ensuring you have the latest updates and patches for your version of Internet Explorer. These are available from Microsoft at support.microsoft.com
There is software available that will scan your computer for spyware and adware. The more popular programs available on the Internet today are:
- Ad-aware: will comprehensively scan your computer’s memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known datamining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components
- Spybot: Spybot – Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of various kinds from your computer
- SpywareBlaster: prevents the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted intrusions
- CWshredder: used for removing CoolWebSearch, fixing redirections when mistyping URLs, Internet Explorer slowdowns when typing and Internet Explorer homepage changing on reboot
- Google Toolbar: eliminate pop-ups, search the web from any site and fill in forms with one click. No need to install upgrades as it updates automatically
- Yahoo Toolbar: blocks pop-ups, search from anywhere online and save your bookmarks to be accessed from any computer
These programs must be downloaded and then installed onto your computer. They may then be used to scan your computer for any spyware software. Either adware program will then list the spyware programs found on your computer and can automatically remove them from your system.
Please Note:This software is not supported by DMTS and is linked on our page for your convenience only. If you require any assistance with this software please contact the software vendor directly.
For more detailed information on spyware, adware or related programs you can do a search on Google.ca