The term spyware is used to describe a programme that is put on your laptop to gather information about you without your knowledge and consent – this information is then relayed to advertisers or other interested parties. The important thing to note about spyware is that it harvests information about you without your consent – this is what makes it so objectionable.
Spyware could affect you in various ways. It could:
- secretly monitor your internet surfing habits and sites you visit
- collect all sorts of personal information about you, such as passwords
- interfere with your control of your computer settings
- install additional software
- redirect web accesses
- detect credit card details when you do internet shopping.
How would you know if your laptop is infected? Your laptop may act in a strange way – look out for these tell-tale signs:
- pop-up advertisements appear even when you are not using the internet
- the page your browser first opens to changes by itself and you find it difficult to change it back to what it was
- a new toolbar appears in your browser and you can’t get rid of it
- your laptop becomes sluggish
- your laptop unexpectedly freezes.
While surfing the internet, and clicking on some options of a pop-up window, spyware may be secretly loaded onto your laptop. It could also be installed on your machine when you download material such as music or video files.
Protect your laptop by using anti-spyware. Of course, the best form of protection is to avoid down-loading spyware programmes. Remember a few basic rules.
Only download programs from web sites you trust; be wary of free music and movie file-sharing programmes.
Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download. Buried in a licence agreement may be a disclaimer saying that information about you will be passed on to another party.
Never click “agree” or “OK” to close a window. Instead, click the red “x” in the corner of the window to close it.
Be careful where you click!
Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.