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Spyware: Spyware Scan

Malicious programs, more commonly termed as malware, are infecting personal computer users and businesses at an alarming rate.  One of the most infectious types is a tricky program by the name of spyware.  According to a recent study, nearly 80% of home and office computer systems have some type of spyware installed.  It also showed that many of the same computers were also infected with other types of malware.   

Understanding the dangers of spyware 

Spyware is often used by companies in order to gather data that enables them to effectively target their advertising efforts based on the sites you visit.  It is also used by parents looking to monitor their children's internet activity.  Some companies install this type of software without your knowledge or consent to display pop-up advertisements.  These programs may also implement toolbars, website displays and other unwanted content.  In many cases, they will track your online information and report the data back to another source. 

Due to the prevalence of these intrusive programs, conducting a spyware scan on your system is imperative.  Similar to a virus scanner, a spyware scanner combs your system for adware programs and helps to remove various types of malware.  When threats are detected, the program will display a scan report indicating which spyware applications were found.  From there you can take the recommended action which is removing the items from your computer. 

Signs of a spyware attack 

To learn if your computer is truly in need of a spyware scan, you must first know how recognize the signs:

- your computer boots up much slower

- your computer performs slowly when opening programs or saving files

- you are bombarded with unwanted pop-up windows

- you notice constant changes in the homepage of your web browser

- you receive random error messages

By conducting a spyware scan, you can keep your computer free of malware without having to install additional software.  Many of these helpful utilities are freely available on the internet and come included with quality customer support.  These scanners are designed with state of the art technology and are a great alternative to expensive security solutions.  Simply run the scan and carry on with your activities as there is often no need to restart the computer.    

Choosing a spyware scan 

A spyware scan has the ability to not only detect spyware, but provide you with three different methods of detection: a quick scan, a full system scan or a customized scan.  Your search can be configured to ignore specific spyware components, enabling the white-listing of any adware programs you may have approved.  Many of these features are user-friendly regardless of the user's experience.  A novice user can remain actively protected by several default features, while more advanced individuals can easily make security adjustments based on preference. 

Even if you have a good anti-virus program on your computer, it may not be enough to detect spyware.  Many of these scanners are specifically designed to detect viruses and may omit several forms of dangerous malware.  For this reason, a spyware scanner is the most reliable way of knowing if you have been infected by this type of software. 

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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