Is your computer running slower than it should be? Do you find that de-fragmentation and extra memory doesn’t help? Do you think it could be a virus? What do you do in situations like these? I suppose you’d run your antivirus software. But what happens when the problem still remains even after you’ve run your antivirus software? In situations like these, many people would turn to technical support. Does this situation sound familiar?

Every day, there are thousands of Internet users who suffer from the same problem. This problem is caused by nasty infectious software called spyware. Over 10% of calls made to technical support relate to spyware problems. According to Microsoft, 50% of all windows based problems are caused by trojans, viruses and spyware. http://www.spywarelive.com has relevant information on combating spyware and its sources.

Adware, Malware, Trojans and Keyloggers all fall under the umbrella name of spyware. Many times these programs are automatically installed on your computer without intervention. Depending on which program is infecting your computer, many unwanted actions take place. Some of the things which could occur as a result of having spyware on your computer are:

Settings may change

Your computer can be monitored remotely

Your computer can be controlled remotely

Your actions can be recorded

Advertisements can be displayed on your desktop

The most prominent spyware programs are:

Adware: This type of program download all sorts of advertisements to your computer and displays them whilst you surf the Internet.

Key Loggers: This program records all your movements and actions on your PC and reports directly to the hacker.

Dialers: A dialer is a program which he uses your phone line to dial premium rate numbers.

Browser Hijacker: These programs change your browser settings so your start page and search preferences are redirected elsewhere.

What is the difference between spyware and a virus?

A virus is a file or program which can cause actual harm or damage to your computer. It can even cause problems with your computer hardware. Spyware will not damage your computer but it is a pain and nuisance to have running in your processes. Spyware is intended to watch over or control you and your system. Since spyware and viruses are two different programs, antivirus software will not remove a spyware program. Thankfully, companies which make antivirus programs are now integrating anti-spyware components within their software.

How do you get spyware on your computer in the first place?

There are several ways this may happen.

You may have elected to allow browser plug-ins to be installed automatically. Sometimes these contain spyware.

Some web sites install spyware whilst you your on their web page. Over 80% of these types of websites are porn related.

If you download or install games or pictures from unscrupulous websites, you’re most likely to be infected with spyware.

The worst type of spyware is one which tells you that it will eliminate infections from your computer but if you click on the ad, it will install spyware instead.

What can you do about it?

Use the Firefox browser. This will minimize the chances of being infected.

Be wary of sites you visit and download items from.

Keep your windows up to date.

Install anti-spyware software.

Make sure your firewall updates itself.

Look out for tell-tale signs of spyware infection, such as slow responses, ads popping up, extra icons in your system tray and unrecognised items in your task manager.

If you notice anything unusual do a full scan with recommended software. Make sure your protection isn’t flawed.