|GlobalNet's Spyware Knowledge Base
things you can do to prevent spyware. Watch
and other unwanted software refers to software
that performs certain tasks on your computer,
typically without your consent. This may include
giving you advertising or collecting personal
information about you. Learn more about the
symptoms of spyware and other unwanted software
and how you can help protect your computer.
you can do about spyware and other unwanted software
Spyware is a general term used for software that
performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting
personal information, or changing the configuration
of your computer, generally without appropriately
obtaining your consent. You might have spyware or
other unwanted software on your computer if:
see pop-up advertisements even when you're not
on the Web.
page your Web browser first opens to (your home
page) or your browser search settings have changed
without your knowledge.
notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn't
want, and find it difficult to get rid of.
computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.
experience a sudden rise in computer crashes.
Spyware is often associated with software that displays
advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks
personal or sensitive information. That does not mean all
software which provides ads or tracks your online activities
is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music
service, but "pay" for the service by agreeing
to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and
agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff.
You might also agree to let the company track your online
activities to determine which ads to show you.
Other kinds of unwanted software will make changes to
your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer
slow down or crash. These programs have the ability to
change your Web browser's home page or search page, or
add additional components to your browser you don't need
or want. These programs also make it very difficult for
you to change your settings back to the way you originally
had them. These types of unwanted programs are also often
The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone
who uses your computer) understand what the software will
do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.
There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software
can get on your system. A common trick is to covertly install
the software during the installation of other software
you want such as a music or video file sharing program.
Whenever you are installing something on your computer,
make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including
the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes
the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software
installation is documented, but it may appear at the end
of a license agreement or privacy statement.
Signs of spyware: Are you infected?
If your computer starts to behave strangely or displays any of the symptoms listed
below, you may have spyware or other unwanted software installed on your computer.
see pop-up advertisements all the time. Some unwanted software
will bombard you with pop-up ads that aren't related to
a particular Web site you're visiting. These ads are often
for adult or other Web sites you may find objectionable.
If you see pop-up ads as soon as you turn on your computer
or when you're not even browsing the Web, you may have
spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.
settings have changed and I can't change them back to the
way they were. Some unwanted software has
the ability to change your home page or search page settings.
This means that the page that opens first when you start
your Internet browser or the page that appears when you select "search" may
be pages that you do not recognize. Even if you know how
to adjust these settings, you may find that they revert back
every time you restart your computer.
My Web browser contains additional components that I don't
remember downloading. Spyware and other unwanted software
can add additional toolbars to your Web browser that you
don't want or need. Even if you know how to remove these
toolbars, they may return each time you restart your computer.
My computer seems sluggish. Spyware and other unwanted software
are not necessarily designed to be efficient. The resources
these programs use to track your activities and deliver advertisements
can slow down your computer and errors in the software can
make your computer crash. If you notice a sudden increase
in the number of times a certain program crashes, or if your
computer is slower than normal at performing routine tasks,
you may have spyware or other unwanted software on your machine.
Get rid of spyware and other unwanted software
Many kinds of unwanted software, including
spyware, are designed to be difficult to remove. If you
try to uninstall this software like any other program,
find that the program reappears as soon as you restart
your computer. If you're having trouble uninstalling
software, you may need to download a tool to do the job
for you. Several companies offer free and low-cost
will check your computer for spyware and other unwanted
software and help you remove it.
in mind that removing unwanted software with these
tools may mean you will no longer be able to use a
that came with the spyware.
To remove spyware
Download one of the free removal tools and install it.
Run the tool to scan your computer for spyware and other unwanted software.
Review the files discovered by the tool for spyware and other unwanted software.
Select suspicious files for removal by following the tool's instructions.
Here are a few well-known tools that can help you detect
and remove unwanted software from your computer:
Lavasoft Ad Aware
Note: GlobalNet Internet Services is not responsible for the quality,
performance, or reliability of these third party tools.
you can do about spyware and other unwanted software
and other unwanted software can invade your privacy, bombard
you with pop-up windows, slow down your computer, and even
make your computer crash. Here are several ways you can help
protect your computer against spyware and other unwanted
Step 1: Update your software
In Internet Explorer, click Tools and then click Internet Options.
If you use Windows XP, one
way to help prevent spyware and
other unwanted software is to make sure all your software
is updated. First, visit Windows Update to confirm
that you have Automatic Updates turned on and that
all the latest critical and security updates.
Step 2: Adjust Internet Explorer security settings
You can adjust your
Internet Explorer Web browser's security
settings to determine
how much—or how
little—information you are willing to accept
from a Web site. Microsoft recommends that you
set the security settings for the Internet zone
To view your current Internet Explorer security settings:
Select the Security tab.
If you're running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and
you use Internet Explorer to browse the Web, your browser
security settings for the Internet zone are already set
to Medium by default. Internet Explorer in Windows XP SP2
also includes a number of features to help protect against
spyware and many other kinds of deceptive or unwanted software.
Tip: Don't know which version of Windows your computer
is running? Find
Step 3: Use a firewall
While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled
with other programs or originate from unscrupulous Web
sites, a small amount of spyware can actually be placed
on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall
or using the firewall that's built into Windows XP provides
a helpful defense against these hackers. To learn more
about firewalls, read Why you should use a computer firewall
and get answers to your Frequently asked questions about
Step 4: Surf and download more safely
The best defense against spyware and other unwanted software
is not to download it in the first place. Here are a
few helpful tips that can protect you from downloading
software you don't want:
Only download programs from Web sites you trust.
If you're not sure whether to trust a program you are considering
downloading, ask a knowledgeable friend or enter the name
of the program into your favorite search engine to see
if anyone else has reported that it contains spyware.
Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy
statements associated with any software you download.
Never click "agree" or "OK" to close
a window. Instead, click the red "x" in the
corner of the window or press the Alt + F4 buttons on
your keyboard to close a window.
Be wary of popular "free" music and movie file-sharing
programs, and be sure you clearly understand all of the
software packaged with those programs.
Spyware and your kids
If your computer starts to suddenly slow down
or you begin to see pop-up windows, even when you're not
browsing the Internet, you may be the victim of spyware and
other unwanted software. Spyware is software that is automatically
downloaded to your computer without your notice, and is often
attached to another file you have chosen to download or install.
Spyware can also be downloaded to your computer when you
click on banner ads on Web sites.
The types of unwanted software programs that kids accidentally
download are usually annoying and may slow down your computer,
but are typically not dangerous.
If your children regularly use your computer, they may
be visiting sites or downloading files that could be exposing
your computer to spyware and other unwanted software.
Types of downloads that may contain spyware
Free games downloaded from the Internet
Music, movies, and other software file-sharing programs
downloaded from the Internet or from other computers
Animated characters for your desktop
Free screen savers downloaded from the Internet
Toolbars for your Internet browser
Free pop-up blockers that appear on your computer when
you are online
Not all of the programs listed above will contain unwanted
software. The key to helping prevent the installation of
spyware is to download programs only from sources you trust
and to read all security warnings, license or user agreements,
and privacy statements associated with any software you
download or install on your computer.
Encourage your kids to ask your permission before they
download anything from the Internet. If you're not sure
if the program they want to download contains spyware or
other unwanted software, ask a knowledgeable friend or
enter the name of the program into your favorite search
engine and see if anyone else has reported that it contains
Tip: Think you may have spyware on your machine? Learn
some of the common signs of a spyware infection and find
out how you can remove spyware.
Mom, Dad—I promise I didn't download anything"
Sometimes your children may accidentally infect your
computer with spyware or other unwanted software without
they've downloaded anything. Some popular sites for kids
may try to download programs without your kids even asking
for them. Your children may see a warning notifying them
that a Web site wants to download a program. They may
click random buttons on the window just to get it to
What they click on might just be "I agree."
If you don't think your kids understand what it means
to download programs only from trusted sources or if you
think they probably won't read all the warnings and agreements
that appear while they're surfing the Web, you may have
to take a few extra precautionary measures with your home
computer. Read How to help keep
your kids from downloading spyware to learn more.
How to help keep your kids from downloading spyware
your kids surf the Internet, chances are they're going to
want to download games, music, and other programs that may
expose your computer to spyware or other unwanted software.
Spyware is a general term used for software that performs
certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal
information, or changing the configuration of your computer,
generally without appropriately obtaining your consent.
Here are a few steps you can take to help your kids download
and install software more safely.
Step 1: Talk with your kids
Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able
to teach them not to download software from unknown sources
on the Internet. If you can convince them to ask your
permission before they download anything, you will go
a long way toward keeping unwanted software off of your
adding Web sites that you feel are safe to your Favorites
list and only allowing your children to download
software from those sites.
Tip: As soon as your kids are old enough to go online,
it's a good idea to establish rules that clearly state
where they can go and what they can do on the Internet.
For more help with guiding kids as they go online, visit
our Child Safety section.
Step 2: Monitor your children's activity on the Internet
Keep the computer in a place in your home where it can
be easily monitored and limit the length of time your child
can spend on the computer. If your children are under 10
years old, you may want to be online with them at all times.
are also many software products that can help
you monitor and
guide your child's use of the Internet.
Step 3: Give your child a limited user account
Windows XP allows you to create multiple user accounts for
your computer. Each user can log on separately and has a
unique profile with his or her own Desktop and My Documents
folder. As a parent, you can give yourself an Administrator
account with full control over the computer, and give your
children Limited User accounts, with restricted controls
that will help prevent them from downloading programs that
may contain spyware or other unwanted software.
For help on adjusting user accounts in Windows XP, read Share your PC: Get started.