The vast majority of threats encountered online are collectively known as malware. This term can refer to a wide variety of issues including spyware, adware, viruses, rootkits, Trojans, and other such malicious software. We are going to discuss spyware: what is it and how to remove it.
As some of us know, spyware is computer software that is installed without the user’s knowledge or consent and which is specifically designed to collect various types of information. The information may be related to the user’s internet surfing habits, or it can be personal information that the user inputs into the computer.
Spyware can also be used by businesses legally to keep an eye on their employees’ day-to-day activities. These are commonly known as keyloggers. Nevertheless, the most common use for this type of software is to steal someone’s identity, or worse.
What’s more, once a computer is infected with spyware, there are additional problems that may also arise. Your system may start working slower without explanation, as the spyware is secretly eating up memory and processing power. Your web browser may have an additional toolbar, or the browser may present a different home page.
Error messages may also appear on screen, as well as previously-unknown icons that may pop up on your desktop. These are just a few telltale signs of spyware finding its way into your system.
Below are several steps that you can take to remove any spyware that’s on your computer.
The Traditional Uninstall
Though it may seem surprising, some spyware and adware applications do have fully functioning uninstallers, which means that you can remove them from your Windows’ own Control Panel.
In the Add-Remove Programs list, search for any unwanted programs listed there and uninstall them. Be careful not to confuse any useful apps or programs with spyware. Reboot your system after the procedure was successful, even if you are not prompted to do so.
Most spyware, especially the dangerous kind, do not have the previously-mentioned option, in which case you will need to remove it via an up-to-date antivirus scanner. You will first need to disconnect your computer from the internet. If your antivirus allows it, perform the scan in Safe Mode.
If by any chance you don’t have an antivirus installed, which you definitely should, choose one of these free versions, or go for the paid variants for better results. Whenever you are using these tools, always make sure to update them. New spyware is created on a daily basis, and only up-to-date antivirus software will be able to detect and remove them.
Undo any Potential Damage
After one or both of the steps mentioned above have been performed, make sure that the spyware will not reintegrate back into the system once you reconnect it to the internet. To do that, however, you will have to reset your browser start and home pages, make sure that it hasn’t hijacked your HOSTS file or that any undesirable websites haven’t been secretly added to your Trusted Sites List. Only after you’ve completed these steps, it is a good idea to reconnect to the internet.
Like with any other online threat out there, the best way to protect yourself is through prevention. Make sure that no spyware will make it into your computer by keeping your security systems up-to-date. Likewise, be more skeptical about what programs you install on your PC, especially if it is part of a package or if it promises something that seems too good to be true. Contact us today to discuss possible solutions.