There are many different types of malicious software spreading across the Internet so it is important to know what spyware is and what spyware does to your computer.  “Spyware” is a somewhat general term to describe software and programs that perform certain actions; typically without your knowledge or consent.

  • Displaying Targeted Advertising
  • Collecting personal info
  • Changing the configuration and settings on your computer

Spyware is often associated with malware that shows advertisements or adware, or software that tracks sensitive personal information.

Getting Services in Exchange for Tracking

This doesn’t mean that all software that provides ads or tracks your online actions is bad. As an example, you may sign up for a free online music service, but you compensate the company for the music service by agreeing to receive ads targeted to your interests.  If you understand and agree to the terms, you probably have decided that it is a fair tradeoff.  You may also agree to let the company track your activities with the purpose of showing you targeted advertisements.

What Spyware Does

Knowing what spyware does can be a tricky process because by default, almost all spyware is designed to be difficult to detect and remove. Some kinds of spyware make unknown changes to your computer that can be quite annoying and even reduce your computer performance or crash it.

These programs can easily change your web browser home or search page, or add additional components to your browser such as toolbars that you don’t want or need.  They also make it extremely difficult for you to change your configuration back to the way it was before.

How You Can Prevent Spyware

The key point in all cases is whether you and those using your computer understand what spyware does and keeping an eye out for it in user agreements.  Clicking “yes” on every software installation screen is a sure way to eventually install spyware on your PC.

Accidental Spyware Installation

Be careful what you click yes to when installing new software




A common trick employed by spyware publishers is to covertly install the software during the installation of other programs you want such as a video or music file sharing program.

Whenever installing something on your computer, be diligent about making sure to carefully read all disclosures, including the privacy statement and license agreement. Often the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is actually documented, but it may appear hidden at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.


Spyware terms of service

Carefully read the Terms of Service or you may miss an important fact.

There are a bunch of ways spyware and other unwanted software can get onto your computer.  Being diligent, avoiding suspicious websites and carefully reading software terms can help prevent spyware and malware from being installed on your system.  Also using good spyware removal software will help prevent as well as remove any existing infections.