Are you noticing strange things happening in your browser? Have your browser settings been altered without your knowledge? Has your homepage changed from what you set it to the last time you open up? Don’t ignore the problem and do nothing about it because it is one of the top signs of an infection.
Ask yourself if you have installed any programs recently which may have caused these changes, but if you haven’t, be on the safe side and scan your PC for any infection. It is highly likely that spyware has made its way into your system and if left, would spread its presence more widely in the future.
Spyware generally enters into the system through pop-up ads, which woo web users with their sales of goods and services. Any inadvertent click simply gives a welcome to the embedded or attached spyware.
Spyware alters web browser settings when the browser is launched. The purpose is to put advertisements in front of the computer user, hoping that one of the offers for products might appeal and “Click”, a sale is made.
You have to understand that spyware is a kind of program, especially designed to track what type of sites you visit on the internet and so what your interests and likes are. This way, the spyware software “learns” what type of offer would be more likely to appeal to you and make you want to buy. You can see then, that “spyware” is a very good name for it because this malicious software is spying on your internet use.
Their presence can be detected easily when your homepage changes or your search engine starts acting strangely. Many a time, the search engine directs the page to another search engine, which is enough evidence that spyware has taken over the system. The configuration of your web browser can also appear to be changed when there is spyware in the background without your knowledge.
Here are a few steps to keep your PC free from such malicious infestations.
- Be alert. Never accept any kind of offer to download toolbars or graphic smileys as these are more likely to be spyware carriers.
- Check your browser settings and bookmarks and verify that you know what these entries are. Delete any pages which seem to be malicious and those that have been added without the your knowledge.
- Make installation of anti-spyware and anti-virus programs a priority if you do not have them installed already. Just having an anti-virus program is not enough these days; anti-spyware and anti-malware are also mandatory for trouble-free computing. Of course, this protection will be useless if you do not run scans regularly and keep the software up to date.
Your computer’s health is very much YOUR responsibility; don’t wait till something goes wrong; take preventative measures beforehand. There are many good security suites available on the market that look after all security functions, firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware to name a few.
If your budget does not run to purchasing such software, there are also many free programs that carry out the individual functions; just make sure when you install several security program together, that there are no known conflicts between them.
Before you start to make any changes, back-up your important data and if your operating system has this function, set a restore point.
Don’t panic if you think you are already infected. Firstly, set a restore point if you can and backup important data.
Run whatever antivirus, anti-malware etc programs you have installed on your computer; check the settings or options and make sure you select “deep scan” or “full scan” – different programs will use a different name but you’ll be able to see which one is the strongest. Let the program fix anything it can.
If this doesn’t get rid of the problem and you run a Windows operating system, you can download and run the “Microsoft malicious software removal tool”. The current link may change, so it would be best for you to search for it to make sure you have the latest version. This tool has proved very effective at cleaning up infections resident security programs have missed.
You may need to search for further tools online if the problem remains, however, keep in mind that this process is very time-consuming and it might be more efficient to take your machine to a PC specialist and be sure that you have a clean machine to start back with.