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Spyware and Adware Information

What is Spyware?
What is Adware?
Are all Adware products Spyware?
What is harmful about Spyware/Adware?
How do I know if my computer is infected with Spyware/Adware?
What should I do if my computer has Spyware or Adware installed on it?
How did Spyware/Adware get on my computer?
What programs can I use to fix my computer?
Are there any preventative steps to protect my computer from Spyware and Adware?


What is Spyware?

Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge or consent. The use of Spyware on the Internet has become a major security and safety issue for users. Spyware programming is placed on a person's computer to secretly gather information about them and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties. Information that can be uncovered through Spyware includes, but is not limited to, a person's name, social security number, credit card or bank information, and passwords.

Spyware is usually installed on a computer as a software virus or as the result of installing a new program from an Internet download. Persons with Spyware on their computer do not even need to be connected to the Internet for information to be gathered. It can be recorded anytime you use your computer and then transmitted when an Internet connection is established. Most Spyware, however, is used while you are online.

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What is Adware?

Adware is another type of program that is installed on computers to provide information about a person's Internet usage. However, Adware is used not to gain access to personal information but to record and report Internet surfing information so that advertisements relevant to that user will be displayed when they are on certain Web sites. These ads appear mainly in the form of pop-ups, which can slow down Internet connection speeds and interfere with Web page loading.

When a program is downloaded from an Internet location, an End User License Agreement (EULA) is usually presented prompting the user to accept or deny the Terms and Conditions. It is in the end lines of these agreements that information about Adware is frequently presented and once the License Agreement is accepted, the Adware is installed with user consent. It is important to thoroughly read and review all information before downloading any program from the Internet or agreeing to any Terms of Service or License Agreements.

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Are all Adware products Spyware?

No. There are also products that do display advertising but do not install any tracking mechanism on your system. The simplest way to find if an Adware product is Spyware is to read the fine print whenever you download and install software. Most sites publish some sort of privacy policy, which you should read before you download software and make an educated decision on whether or not you want to use the product.

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What is harmful about Spyware/Adware?

Spyware and Adware are harmful in many ways. While on the Internet, any information that is being transferred between your computer and a Web site may be recorded and sent to interested parties. This information can include names, social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account information and passwords. Spyware also transmits Internet surfing habits and can cause advertisements to appear constantly when the user is online or even disrupt a user's computer experience when offline and not connected to the Internet.

Adware affects the performance of your computer system. The pop-ups that are displayed when surfing the Internet can contribute to system overload, which slows connection speeds, Web page loading times and other aspects of computer performance. Both Spyware and Adware hinder computer performance and should be removed if significant interruptions in service are detected.

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How do I know if my computer is infected with Spyware/Adware?

Common behaviors of computers that are infected with Spyware or Adware include:

  • Excessive pop-up ads when surfing the Internet
  • Pop-up ads or messages appear even when you are not connected to the Internet
  • Slower than normal page loading speeds
  • Settings for your browser home page (first Web page opened when connecting to the Internet) have been changed
  • A new toolbar is installed in your browser without your consent. It may also reappear when you connect to the Internet even if you have removed it.
  • Strange or unexpected behavior from your computer even when not on the Internet

If you experience any of these behaviors on a regular basis, you may have Spyware and/or Adware installed on your computer.

The best way to find out if your computer is infected with Spyware or Adware is to perform a scan using an Anti-Spyware program like Norton Internet Security Online. Norton Internet Security Online not only provides Anti-Spyware protection but also includes AntiVirus, Firewall and Parental Controls.

To sign-up for Norton Internet Security Online, click here.

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What should I do if my computer has Spyware or Adware installed on it?

If you can identify the program installed on your computer that is impeding its performance, it is possible to remove it yourself. Uninstall it in the same way you would any other program, through the Add/Remove software icon in the computer's . Note that some Spyware has become so advanced that even after it is removed, it will try to re-install itself on the user's computer. Be sure that after you finish removing the program that it has not returned. If you are not sure how to properly remove the Spyware or Adware program(s), you will need to use a third-party program for assistance.

To remove spyware from your computer, please install an Anti-Spyware program. Norton Internet Security Online not only provides Anti-Spyware protection but also includes AntiVirus, Firewall and Parental Controls.

To sign-up for Norton Internet Security Online, click here.

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How did Spyware/Adware get on my computer?

Spyware and Adware programs can both be installed on a user's computer through downloading software from the Internet or from a software virus. The main difference between Adware and Spyware is that Adware is installed with consent from the user by means of acceptance of a User Agreement when a program is downloaded. Be sure to carefully read all information that is presented to you before agreeing to install a program.

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What programs can I use to fix my computer?

To remove spyware from your computer, please install an Anti-Spyware program. Norton Internet Security Online not only provides Anti-Spyware protection but also includes AntiVirus, Firewall and Parental Controls.

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Are there any preventative steps to protect my computer from Spyware and Adware?

It is important that you understand what type of programs you are downloading and that you read the End User License Agreement before accepting any software. If you notice an increase in the number of pop-ups appearing when you are online or offline, you will need to run a full scan of your computer using an appropriate AntiVirus, anti-spyware, or anti-adware software program to help find and remove the unwanted programs.

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