Spyware infiltrated your computer?
EAGLE COUNTY – Is your computer taking longer to complete tasks? Are you experiencing a sudden increase in computer crashes and lock-ups? Are pop-up advertisements appearing on your screen even when you are not connected to the Internet? Has the start page of your Web browser or your default search engine suddenly changed without your knowledge? Have additional toolbars been added to your Web browser? If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, your computer may be infected with spyware.Spyware is a loose term that refers to software that carries out specific actions to include advertising, collecting personal information or modifying various configuration settings of a computer. In most cases, this is done without the user’s knowledge.Spyware is closely associated with a type of software called adware. Adware is software that displays advertisements and tracks personal information. It is important to understand that all forms of adware are not malicious or bad. For instance, you may subscribe to a free service in exchange for agreeing to receive various forms of advertisements and statistical data on what you are doing while you are using their software.Spyware can be installed on your system a number of ways. Many music and file sharing programs available for download on the Web secretly install spyware during the installation of the file sharing software. It is very important to read all disclosures, licensing agreements, and privacy policies associated with any software you are installing on your machine. Often, the insertion of unwanted software is documented. However, it might be difficult to locate unless you read the entire license agreement and privacy statement.There are numerous software utilities that detect and remove spyware from your computer. Many are available for download on the Internet. Microsoft has just released Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta). Lavasoft Ad-aware (www.lavasoft.com) and Spybot Search & Destroy (www.safer-networking.org/microsoft.en.html) are two other popular spyware detection and removal tools. If you have a computer that is connected to the Internet, I highly recommend that you implement spyware protection on your computer. It is one of many steps you can take to ensure your computer stays happy and healthy.Steve Sekelic, owner of Interworkz Training and Consulting Inc., can be reached at 376-2233, on the Web at http://www.interworkz.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado