If, despite all your efforts, you find your computer has spyware on it, stop working immediately and disconnect the computer from the Internet to avoid passing any information to the bad guys. Run a comprehensive scan using your anti-virus software. It's also wise to contact the help desk of the company that manufactured your computer for advice on how to proceed. Your Internet service provider may be helpful, too.
Updated anti-virus or anti-spyware software will probably catch the errant program, display a warning and take care of the problem for you. Again, that's only if you have a solid protection package in place and are keeping it and your operating system updated at all times.
If all else fails, you may have to reformat your hard drive, reinstall the operating system and software and copy your data back to your drive. While painful and time-consuming, this solution also serves to clean up the system, eliminating unused applications and data. This is almost certain to make the machine run faster and increase the space available on your hard drive. Just be sure you have a recent, clean backup of your data prior to taking the plunge.
While the number of threats to computers seems to increase almost daily, the defense mechanisms available to protect them are also growing in number and sophistication. Today, most users can protect themselves from spyware through the vigilant application and maintenance of the operating system and reputable anti-virus software.
For more information on viruses, spyware, Trojans and other nefarious software, scan over to the next page.
- Dang, Alan. "Behind Pwn2Own: Exclusive Interview with Charlie Miller." Tom's Hardware. March 25, 2009. (April 6, 2009)http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pwn2own-mac-hack,2254.html
- Ibanga, Imaeyen. "Teacher: Wrong Computer Click Ruined My Life." ABC News. Jan. 27, 2009. (April 6, 2009) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=6739393
- Magid, Larry. "It Pays to Read License Agreements." PC Pitstop. (April 15, 2009) http://www.pcpitstop.com/spycheck/eula.asp
- Panda Security. PandaLabs Blog. "PandaLabs Quarterly Report January-March 2009." (April 7, 2009)http://www.pandasecurity.com/img/enc/Quarterly_Report_PandaLabs_Q1_2009.pdf
- Scambusters.org. "Protect Yourself from Fake Antivirus Software." (April 2, 2009) http://www.scambusters.org/fakeantivirus.html
- spamlaws.com. "Spyware and the Law." (April 7, 2009)http://www.spamlaws.com/spyware-laws.html
- Spyware Warrior. "The Spyware Warrior List of Rogue/Suspect Antispyware Products & Web Sites." (April 8, 2009)http://www.spywarewarrior.com/rogue_anti-spyware.htm
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "Federal Trade Commission's Information on Spyware." (April 7, 2009)http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/spyware/index.html