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Adware Protection: How to Prevent Adware

Given that adware can be annoying, change your internet settings, slow down your computer, and carry the security threat of spyware, you are probably wondering how you can protect your computer from adware in the future. Well, the best method of protection is prevention of course! Here are some simple ways you can prevent adware from finding its way onto your computer:

Keep Updated

One of the best ways to prevent adware is to keep your system and programs updated. There are four important types of updates you want to make sure you have: operating system updates, internet service provider (ISP) updates, anti-virus software updates, and email program updates.

Windows and other operating systems commonly come with certain security inefficiencies. As these security holes are discovered, your operating system will come out with security patches. These are small computer programs that fix the holes in the system's security features. Make sure that you install security updates from your operating system as soon as they become available, and check for them regularly on the company's support/updates page. In addition, you may want to change your system's settings to automatically check for updates if you haven't done so already. Pay special attention to updates marked "Critical."

Your internet service provieder (ISP) will also occasionally come out with security updates such as spyware protection as well as browser enhancements that may assist in blocking pop-ups etc. Make sure you check for and download these updates too. You must have the latest version of the software to take advantage of the built in security features.

You also want to make sure you update your anti-virus software on a regular basis. Older versions of the software didn't protect against spyware and adware because they behave differently from worms and viruses. However, popular anti-virus programs like Norton AntiVirus and McAffee VirusScan can now scan for some adware and spyware, and they are getting better at it all the time. That's why it's important to keep updating these programs on a regular basis.

Finally, email software like Microsoft Outlook needs to be updated too, since email-software vendors also come out with security patches for their programs. This helps prevent malicious software from getting to your computer through email.

Adjust Your Browser Settings

To help prevent adware from finding its way onto your computer you might also want to adjust your internet browser's security settings. For example, on Internet Explorer, your Internet Zone settings should be on "Medium Security" or above.

Install a Firewall

Firewalls are programs that you install to filter data. These act as gatekeepers to only let authorized data in and out of your system. When you install a new program like adware and it connects to the internet for the first time, the firewall will warn you that it is about to connect and ask for your permission for it to do so. This way, even if you do install adware without knowing, you will be warned that you have it and it will not be able to work properly without your permission. You can then take steps to remove the unwanted program.

Know What You're Installing

One of the most obvious and common sense ways to avoid downloading and installing unwanted adware is to pay attention to what you're installing! When you go to download a program, especially if it's freeware, ask yourself: "Do I know the source of this program? Do I trust its makers?" If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Reputable software publishers will avoid including adware when possible. If they do include adware with their programs they will provide you with an option to opt out of "extras," normally during the installation process.

Watch What You Click

Another simple and obvious way to avoid adware, but one that many people don't follow anyway is to watch what you click! It can be time consuming to read pop-up messages, and many people get in the habit to just clicking "Yes" or "Ok" to them without reading what they say. Adware and spyware publishers count on this habit. Know what you're agreeing to before your click "Ok."

Of course, if you are going to go to the trouble of protecting your computer from adware, you may also want to learn how to remove the adware you already have and see what adware cleaners and pop-up blockers can do for you.

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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser