Spyware and adware are two different animals. Each has the ability to make your life a mess. If you rely on the internet for anything or you rely on your computer for anything, it is a must that you fully understand what these things are and how they work.
The first key to protecting yourself from these things is to fully understand what they are. That will allow you to know how to not make common mistakes that cause spyware to get into your computer.
What Is Spyware?
According to Microsoft, spyware is a term that describes any type of software that is used for such things as collecting personal information, changing the configuration of your computer, advertising and anything else that can be done. The catch is that spyware is downloaded without your permission. Usually, you won’t know it’s even there when it enters your system.
What Is Adware?
The difference between spyware and adware is just a small one. With spyware, the potential could be leaked personal information to another source. In other words, someone is spying on you. With adware, though, the software is geared towards displaying advertisements.
Is It All Bad?
Unfortunately, many people have been lead to believe that all types of this software are bad and should be avoided. But, that’s not always the case. The fact is you may want to have certain types of this software to use.
Remember, to make it spyware it has to be downloaded to your computer without your consent.
Why would you want to have spyware that tracks your personal information? Why would you want those advertisements? You may actually sign up for a service online and when you do you may also agree to receive targeted ads.
Companies like this find it helpful to track where you go online and what you do in order to provide you with ads that are targeted to your interests. Instead of seeing ads that don’t have anything to do with you, you’ll see ads that are based on the places you’ve visited online.
In most cases, though, spyware can be something that annoys and even has the potential to do much harm to you and your computer.
One problem that often happens with spyware and adware is that they can change your computer’s settings, making it quite annoying for you to even log on. Here, they may change the web browser’s home page. Or, when you search, this page can be changed. Some products even will make other changes to the actual configuration of your computer.
The problem with these things is that they are usually very difficult to change back. You may not have the ability to do this because it can be quite difficult.
Slowing Your Computer Down
Another problem with spyware and adware is that it can drastically slow your computer down. First and foremost, it can hurt you by being annoying. Pop-up ads may happen. But, slowly your computer will begin to move slower. If you don’t notice it at first, the more spyware that gets into the system, the harder it will be for you to do the things you want to do.
This happens because your computer is being asked to do more and more. Not only does it need to perform the tasks that you want it to do, but it also needs to perform the tasks that the spyware is running. Running online tracking, popping up ads, monitoring your usage; all of these things can be quite demanding on your system. So, it slows down.
In some cases, so much can be on a computer that it really can stop moving. You may have it crash on you or just go down because it can’t perform all of the operations that is being requested of it.
Some types of spyware are much worse. Although rarer, these are the worst types. Just as adware can track what you are doing online to help target the right ads to you, spyware can do the same.
In some cases, though, it can take pictures of the websites you visit and the information that you input. It may take these images and report them back to the source of the spyware.
When it does that, your personal information, such as your credit card information, your addresses, and even other sensitive information you enter online can be relayed right back to the source.
This is when and why you hear about spyware and adware causing identity theft issues. While these types of situations don’t happen as often, they are still potentially there and should be protected from.
The Plan Of Action
Spyware and adware is not something that you can ignore. For most, it is something that needs to on your mind when you are online. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be something that you worry about every single day. In fact, there are many ways you can safely protect yourself against these types of problems.
1. Get your computer clean. We’ll discuss how to do this in the coming chapters. Remove all of the adware and spyware on it right now.
2. Keep it clean. Keeping it clean means constant monitoring of what is happening online. It also means educating yourself in how spyware gets into your computer and protecting yourself from invasion.
Consider spyware and adware as serious as a virus. Protect yourself and your computer from it.