What is Spyware and how did I get it?    Spyware is software that is placed on your computer by owners of some websites that you visit, and can send information back to the author about your computer use habits.  In many cases spyware can cause more problems with your computer than a virus.  Spyware can use your machine to send SPAM, or spread more spyware.

Several signs could point to you having spyware:

  1. Your system runs noticeably slower than it did before.
  2. You receive pop-up advertisements when you are not using a web browser.
  3. The page you see when you start a web browser (your home page) has changed without your knowledge.
  4. A new item appears in your favorites list without you putting it there.
  5. A new "Search Bar" appears at the top of your web browser or in your Task Bar.

How do I get rid of spyware?   We recommend a multilevel approach of removing unwanted programs followed by scanning with a reputable anti-spyware program.  If you are uncomfortable with the instructions below, your Support Specialist will be happy to assist you with any Spyware Removal issues.

Step One - Look at the Program List in Add/Remove Programs and remove obvious offenders such as Hotbar, Gain, Personal Screensavers, etc.  (a complete list can be found here).  If you see program names listed that you're not familiar with, do a google search on them.  REBOOT.

Step Two - Download, Install and Run Microsoft Windows Defender (Windows) or  Malwarebytes.  Microsoft Defender is a real-time protection software suite that is free and automatically kept up to date.  These products are trusted by the computer industry to be effective tools in the fight against spyware.  If you have an anti-spyware tool already installed on your computer, please check with your support specialist as many anti-spyware programs may actually further infect your system with spyware.  REBOOT.

How do I keep from getting spyware?  Preventing spyware is a lot like preventing a cold.  You're going to be exposed to it but you have to limit the contact you have with the internet and avoid risky behavior.  If you see a popup ad offering to scan your computer, don't click on it, instead use the uppermost red X to close the window.  Programs offering smiley faces, moving characters or cute sound effects will also install spyware on your computer.  Screensavers and weather alert programs are also very common ways to contract spyware.

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