What Is Spyware, How It Works, and How to Remove It
Spyware is software that works to gather information about a person or group without their knowledge, that may send the data collected to another entity through cookies that then takes control over a device without the user’s awareness. Spyware is used to track and store internet users movements on the web and uses pop up ads to the user.
Spyware can be used for malicious purposes as well. The presence of spyware is usually hidden and difficult to detect by the user of the device. Spyware can collect any data from personal information, user logins, bank, and credit information.
Spyware can interfere with the user’s control of the device, change browser settings, and a variety of other nuisances but can also be as severe as destroying the functionality of your computer. Please read on to familiarize yourself with the different types of spyware, how to recognize if you have become a victim of spyware and how to get rid of the problem.
Four Types of Spyware
Adware is a common type of spyware that is typically used by advertisers. This spyware records your web surfing habits to identify what kind of sites you search for and then apply direct marketing pop-ups and spam email that would appeal to you based on information compiled by the adware.
Keyboard logger is more malicious spyware used by hackers. This program will steal personal information by logging the actual keystrokes you type on your computer. Every PIN, password or credit card number you type is recorded by the keyboard logger and used by the hacker to access systems and commit identity theft and fraud.
This type of spyware affects your internet access by resetting your homepage and bookmarks. The object is to direct you to undesirable sites with advertising spam. This spyware is also for data miners to record your browsing activities and then sell the information to advertisers.
Modern Hijackers tie into your phone line to make unauthorized calls and access member websites through your online connection. Usually, this spyware is used to phone premium rate phone numbers, and access elicit websites such as porn sites. You don’t find out about this spyware until you see all the charges on your bill!
Warning Signs Your Computer Is Infected with Spyware
Beware that most spyware finds its way to your computer via file downloads including free programs, music files, screensavers, etc. If you are experiencing one or more of these warning signs, the chances are that your computer device is infected with spyware.
- Your internet browser and a strange looking homepage pops up and won’t go away.
- You search, and another unauthorized browser completes it for you.
- For example, you type a search term into Microsoft IE, but another browser pops us and lists various websites tied to your search term. You may also try and remove this program; it comes right back.
- Your computer is unstable, sluggish, locks up or crashes frequently.
- Constant pop-up ads are on the screen, even when you aren’t browsing the internet.
- You get expensive phone bills for calls to 900 numbers that you didn’t make.
- The send and receive lights on your modem blink actively even when you are not surfing or downloading files online.
- Files are moved and deleted. The icons on your desktop are missing.
- The CD drawer starts opening and closing by itself.
- You have emails in your sent folder that you did not send.
How to Remove Spyware from Your Computer
Disconnect from the Internet
Remove your Ethernet cable or disconnect your wireless connection.
Try to Uninstall the Program
Check the Add/Remove Programs list in the Windows Control Panel. If the unwanted program listed, highlight it and click the Remove button. After removing the spyware, reboot the computer. Make sure you reboot after uninstalling even if not prompted to do so.
Scan Your Computer
If the above step doesn’t work, you can run a full system scan an antivirus program. The can will highlight suspicious and will prompt you to either clean, quarantine, or delete as appropriate.
Scan your computer once a week to clear out potential infections. Spyware is designed to go undetected, and you can be infected and not be aware of the damage that is happening.
To avoid future spyware infections, be mindful about what you install and what you click on – research free programs before installing. Lastly, keep your antivirus software updated and contact Social Catfish if you suspect possible spyware or hacking on your computer for assistance.