Spyware. It is a word that every PC user has heard countless times. However, many do not really understand what it is and what to do about it.
In short, spyware is an exploitation of your computer for some sort of commercial use. Now, you are more than likely wondering what company on earth would use such a horrible way to tell you about a product or service and the answer is simple. It is not the company themselves. I seriously doubt that the likes of Coca Cola would even think about using a form of spyware. However, the hoards of spammers are not quite as friendly.
Spyware does sometimes attempt to collect vital personal information such as credit card data, but this is not always the intent of spyware. Most of the time spyware is collecting Internet surfing and spending habits online. More often then not it then leads to some tricky brower redirecting. Did your homepage all of a sudden become a different site? Well there is a 90% chance that is spyware.
Spywares usual method of infection is by you downloading it without even knowing. When asked to install something you need to be very careful. Read the user agreement and make sure that they did not throw any verbiage in there that says anything about tracking, habits, browsing, or anything like that. It is all too often that you download something that you think is fun and harmless is actually something that is tracking what you do on the Internet.
In the past several years spyware has become a major issue of computer security. This is a good thing because most Internet security software has suitable defenses from most spyware. However, you need to be very careful about what you install. The security software can not stop you from installing something should you choose to do so. Studies have shown that over 90% of users that had spyware did not even know they had it. Now that is scary.
This is often the case because even a cookie can sometimes be considered spyware. There are so many ways to get spyware on to your PC that it is hard to stay 100% clean of it. Music downloads and other things can be bundled with spyware. So it is important to be very mindful of what you download as we discussed above.
Go and get a good Internet security tool that includes spyware protection. Most of these programs are affordable and will update spyware and other defense definitions weekly if not daily. This is the easiest way to protect yourself. Start with that and be wary of your downloads and you will decrease your chances of the Internet bogyman watching your every move.