Rob Freeman, Click Online's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems.
Most people have experienced spyware in some shape or form. But unfortunately you may not realise you have.
Spyware is clandestine software loaded onto your computer without your knowledge, or possibly without the full functionality being made clear to you.
Regrettably spyware can get into your computer by tricking you into downloading it, disguising itself with a banner ad warning you of a virus in your computer or your computer not being optimised, or offering to increase your internet speed by ridiculous amounts.
Windows has always been the most targeted operating system for spyware because most people run Windows, and they run it without a firewall and they use Internet Explorer.
Until recently Internet Explorer made it very easy for you to accidentally download some spyware.
For that reason, Microsoft has its very own AntiSpyware tool, and we are going to show you how to install it, and why.
Be aware that in order to download, you first need to validate your copy of Windows, that is prove that it is genuine, and not a pirate copy.
Microsoft's AntiSpyware download site is listed on the right hand side of this page. The software is not very large, about 6mb, or 15 minutes downloading with a slow modem (download details).
It is still a beta release, which means that it is still being developed and changed, but I think it is already one of the best defences against spyware.
If you run Windows, you should try it out. Also if you run Windows you should keep it up to date; on the Microsoft website are security upgrades for all users, so if you surf make sure you have them.
How you can tell that you might have Spyware:
- Your browser homepage mysteriously changes
- Gradual slowdown of your PC
- Hard disk activity when you're not accessing files
- Network activity when you're not using the Internet
- Random crashing
If, for whatever reason, you cannot install AntiSpyware you should make sure you have the very latest version of Internet Explorer, or switch away from Microsoft's browser completely.
I like Mozilla Firefox, now grown up and well, just starting its 1.5 release.
Mac users can feel free to look smug - Apple's Safari is already a great browser and you can stick where you are. And now that Microsoft has officially suggest you to move to Safari, you can get even smugger - if that's a word.