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Is it lurking on your machine?
Adware is software that collects information about your web surfing habits in order to display advertisements usually via pop up ads. Both adware and spyware can be embedded in software that's distributed through what's known as Freeware - such as peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, desktop companions or toolbar helpers. Software authors may distribute the free version of a program with adware built in and registered versions without the adware.
Similar to adware, spyware can collect and transmit data about how you use your computer. However, spyware is infamously known to transmit sensitive information like passwords or email addresses, change Web browser preferences, or even add entries to Internet Explorer's Favorites list! These sneaky programs often cause application crashes and slowed system performance.
So how can you get rid of it? Searching the Internet will bring up many removal options. The trick is figuring out which ones are legitimate. There are a number of deceptive programs that claim to remove spyware, when in fact, it just adds to it. Here are a few respected removal tools:
AdAware is a free tool that can be used to detect most of the common Spyware/Adware components that exist on the Net today.
Spybot Search & Destroy is a free tool that can detect spyware, as well as check for system problems (faulty uninstall information, broken links, etc.) and history lists that record information that you may not want stored.
While these tools can be of great assistance, they may not rid you of every single program. In this case, searching the Internet might help you find instructions to remove the specific menace. Try searching for the file or program name, along with the keywords: adware, spyware, removal, or uninstall.
Once your computer is free of spyware and adware, it's important to take additional steps to prevent future infiltrations. Spybot and Lavasoft (Ad Aware) both offer frequent protection updates. We suggest that users keep these programs updated consistently just like you would an antivirus program. In addition, we recommend that you protect your computer with a software firewall. This will alert you to any unauthorized attempts to access your computer and warn you of programs on your machine that might be attempting to access the Internet without your knowledge. As always, make sure to update your antivirus Software regularly and keep your operating system current with the latest security patches.
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