Spyware is everywhere.
According to , between 100 million and 150 million PCs online are under at least partial control. Even scarier than that number is the realization of how easy it is for spyware to get onto a computer. Many versions of it are imbedded in apps and written in clear language in those apps’ End User License Agreements. But an estimated 63% of consumers give consent to those agreements without ever reading them, basically opening the front door to their systems and inviting the spyware right on in.
Spyware is often harder to detect than traditional viruses, adware, and other forms of viruses because it lays low and is not always an active participant in your computer’s routine processes. It can record your keystrokes and take screenshots and even video of your activities without draining too much memory or processing power, and often uses your computer’s downtime - such as nighttime or early morning hours - to send its reports to its owners’ location. Before you invest in anti-spyware software, check out the following test that gives several circumstances that indicate spyware is present on your machine. If even one of the following is true for your device, you should to find one that best suits your needs and budget. From there, install, cleanse, and reboot your machine to pure any and all spyware from your system.
- Unfamiliar add-ons and toolbars: A dead giveaway that you’ve downloaded something you didn’t intend to occurs when you startup your computer or even your favorite browser to find a new toolbar has taken root and is trying to take control of how you search the Internet and what applications you use for certain tasks. Toolbars like this are often included in downloads for other apps. Usually they’ll be a small message concerning them that is already ticked as if you’ve agreed to it. When you don’t read the End User LIcense Agreement, as stated above, you wind up giving permission for the toolbar to download and install itself. A to get the primary problem removed, but spyware often comes along for the ride and won’t go as willingly.
- Unfamiliar search results: You’re looking for someone to repair your roof and type your search credentials into Google or Bing, only to be spit out at a website you’ve never seen with results that don’t make much sense. When your web searches are being redirected, it’s time to call the anti-spyware reinforcements.
- Odd messages on Skype: You add a friend, open a chat, or simply click sign on to Skype and are greeted by an unfamiliar message or advertisement. Skype only advertises for Skype online, so anything else showing up is an unwelcome intruder.
- New icons on your desktop: Most people have far too many icons and other random bits of information on their desktop, but usually know exactly where everything is and why it’s there. So when a new icon pops up out of nowhere, warning bells correctly go off in our heads. New icons mean new downloads, and if you don’t remember giving permission for said download, you need to get it gone as soon as possible.