Protect Your Computer From Spyware, Adware, and Trojan Horse Programs
Why It's Important
Getting spyware and adware is 'usually' the result of poor WEB surfing habits. Clicking on pop-up ads and banner ads is a poor WEB surfing habit. Most reputable and reliable WEB sites have discontinued using pop-up ads because they have learned that their customers find them annoying. Not all pop-up ads or banner ads will install spyware, but many of them do. Downloading free software such as games, music trading programs, chat programs and screen savers is another poor WEB surfing habit. Many of these free programs will install spyware.
Not all spyware is the result of poor WEB surfing habits. Spyware can also get onto your computer through shared folders, music trading programs, and un-patched vulnerabilities in your computer's operating system.
What You Can Do About It
A number of spyware and Trojan horse programs are designed to steal usernames and passwords. So, once you are confident that you have removed all spyware, adware, trojan horse, music trading programs, viruses, and worms, and have confirmed that your computer is up to date with all of the critical patches, you should change all of your passwords. Change the password to your computer’s log on account, all Windows domain accounts, all E-mail accounts, and all on-line banking accounts. Always keep a close watch on your monthly bank statements and credit card statements for unauthorized charges.
- Take more care when surfing the WEB and, sharpen your WEB surfing 'street smarts'. Avoid WEB sites that display a lot of pop-up ads. Avoid clicking on pop-up ads and banner ads. Avoid clicking on buttons that say "YES", "OK" or, "Click Here". Watch out! Some pop-up ads are designed to look just like a Windows error message! They will often say something like "Your computer is infected with Spyware. Click here to remove it." Do NOT click on those - they will definitely install spyware onto your computer! If you get a pop-up ad, click on the gray "X" in the top right hand corner of the pop-up window to close it. If your WEB browser 'explodes' with pop-up ads, try unplugging the network cable while you reboot the computer.
- Do not download free software unless:
- You are authorized to download and install software onto your computer.
- It is something that you need.
- It has been recommended by someone you know and trust.
- You download it from a reputable and reliable WEB site that you trust.
- Disable "File and Print Sharing" on your computer. If you really need to share a folder on your computer, password protect the shared folder with a complex password.
- Uninstall any music trading programs such as Bit Torrent, Limewire, Gnutella and KaZaA. Many of these programs also install Trojan horse spyware programs. Additional spyware programs, viruses, worms and other Trojan horse programs can also get onto your computer through the file trading activities of these programs.
- Raising the security setting of your WEB browser can also help keep spyware off of your computer. For Internet Explorer, see Working with Internet Explorer 6 Security Settings
- Keep up–to-date with all of the security updates and patches for your computer and software. These will help prevent spyware from getting onto your computer through known vulnerabilities in your computer’s operating system.
- Install a good, name-brand anti-virus program and personal firewall.
Spyware and adware are designed and installed in such a way to make removal difficult. The best way to get spyware and adware off of your computer is to run a reputable spyware removal tool. Free spyware tools are available on the web, but, unfortunately, many are not very good. In fact, some of them are actually Trojan horse spyware programs! Choose a removal tool that has been recommended by someone you trust, and only download it from a reputable WEB site. All of the major name-brand anti-virus manufacturers sell spyware removal tools. Two free spyware removal tools that work well and can be trusted are: