Spyware is a rapidly spreading online threat to your computer. It is estimated that in the first three months of 2005 over 80% of computer users had a computer unknowingly infected with spyware. You may have unintentionally downloaded spyware on your computer when you visited a site and downloaded software you wanted, or, when you downloaded that cute cartoon e mail program from your friend.
What spyware does is allow someone to observe your computer use and track your behavior on the computer. Some of these programs are keystroke loggers, adware and so-called system monitors. Generally those that maliciously install spyware software on your computer are being paid by a third party for the information they gain from tracking you and hundreds of thousands like you. It's said that spyware is a billion dollar industry, one that isn't going away anytime soon.
A lawsuit was recently filed in New York against a Los Angeles company called Intermix Media. The lawsuit is based upon the State of New York's General Business Law which prohibits false advertising and deceptive business practices and laws against trespass. A successful lawsuit against Intermix Media could spell doomsday to the spyware industry. Until then, you need to know what to do to protect your computer from spyware.
Once on your computer spyware can be very hard to remove. At it's best spyware will cause your computer to slow down. At its' worst spyware can change settings on your computer and display advertising you don't want.
There are many anti-spyware programs available on the market today. You should perform an on demand scan of your computer on a regular basis. It is suggested that you re-boot your computer after the initial scan and then re-scan to make sure that there are no "ticklers" left behind on your computer. These ticklers are designed to reinstall spyware. Don't forget to run your regular anti virus software on a regular basis.
Beware of free downloads of any type of files, music, video, free wall paper, etc. These can have hidden spyware.