What is spyware? The term spyware generally refers to any program that collects and transmits information about a users internet browsing or other computer habits. Originally, spyware was relatively benign. Some of the original tracking cookies allowed websites like Yahoo to customize page ads based on your search terms or by tracking which ads you actually clicked on. Over time, spyware became more malicious. Some spyware now reports back to a central server every link you click and also any information you key into web forms - including address, phone number and credit card information. Additionally, if enough spyware gets on your machine, you may have trouble accessing the internet because the different spyware agents fight for control of your connection. We have never had a computer brought to the helpdesk for service that did not have at least a few pieces of spyware. Many have thousands of pieces of spyware when they are brought to us. Fortunately, there are products available, many of which are free, which will help control spyware on your machine.
Unlike anti-virus software, it is recommended you use more than one anti-spyware program to keep your computer clean. We recommend the following free programs:
This program requires interaction with you to clean the machine, but the problems it generally finds is well worth the effort. Download here.
Our favorite tool at the helpdesk. The free version is adequate for most people. Download here.
We generally use a combination of these programs at the helpdesk to diagnose and remove spyware. Each one is effective in discovering spyware the others do not. There are many other programs which remove spyware, but we have found these to be the most effective free options.
Avoiding spyware takes some discipline and practice. When downloading and installing programs (especially free programs) you must read each of the installation screens carefully. Many times, spyware-laden programs are installed with other programs we download. Read each screen as it is presented and uncheck anything you do not specifically want installed during the installation process.
Additionally, you should only download programs from reputable sites. We have found snapfiles.com to be a reputable download site.
Computing Services Helpdesk | Britt Hall Basement | M-F 8:30AM - 5:00PM
Phone: Local: 893-1208 | Campus - ext. 1208 | Toll-Free: 800-334-4111 ext. 1208