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Spyware 101: Identifying And Removing Threats From Your Computer

What is Spyware? Know How to Identify Threats

While the internet is a great way to conduct research, socialize, listen to music, watch videos and play games, there is also a downside: viruses and spyware. Whereas viruses are often an immediate threat to your computer and may lead to data loss, spyware is an equally annoying albeit more subtle problem. While spyware will rarely disrupt regular usage, it nevertheless stealthily corrupts your computer. What is spyware? Spyware can lead to decreased performance, plus it may log your keystrokes to get login and password info as well as steal personal information to facilitate identity theft.

How do you know if you have spyware on your computer? Here are some of the common symptoms that you will notice:

  • Slower computer performance
  • Seeing lots of unrelated pop-up ads while browsing or when starting up your computer
  • New settings and/or toolbars on your browser that you can’t change back

Removing Spyware

The best way to get rid of spyware is to not get it in the first place. However, even if you regularly update your antivirus software and do your best to avoid suspicious files, you may still end up with spyware on your computer. That’s because new forms of spyware make their way online all the time, so even the best spyware remover needs to be constantly updated. In the time between updates, the new spyware has a chance to spread around and populate adware on unsuspecting computers.

Spyware is notoriously difficult to remove and it will attempt to avoid detection by spyware cleaners. Even if it’s removed, it may reactivate the next time you go online. While most people use spyware removal software on their computer, a program on the infected hard drive may already be compromised, so the safest way to remove the spyware is to bypass the operating system while scanning the infected hard drive. This can be done by booting up with a special CD or USB drive. You should also disconnect from the Internet while cleaning your computer just to be safe.

If you delete the wrong files, you could compromise your operating system. In fact, even using a program to remove spyware can still occasionally delete an important file, so you should back up your data in advance. Unless you want to become a computer technician, it’s safer to hire a professional with experience in handling malware and spyware problems to remove it for you. It’s the best option if you don’t know how to remove spyware.