Guide to beating spyware

Spyware is the name given to unwanted software that performs certain tasks on your computer without your consent and it can wreak havoc with your business.


Spyware is the name given to unwanted software that performs certain tasks on your computer without your consent and it can wreak havoc with your business.

Spyware is the name given to unwanted software that performs certain tasks on your computer without your consent and it can wreak havoc with your business.

Spyware programmes covertly make their way onto PCs and cause chaos, hijacking the start-up page, subjecting users to unwanted pop-up adverts, corrupting files and even surreptitiously gathering information about browsing habits. They can even steal confidential information such as passwords and login details.

According to recent research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, nine out of ten internet users in the US say they have adjusted their online behaviour out of fear of falling victim to software intrusions. Unfortunately, many fears are grounded in experience – 43 per cent of internet users say their computer has been affected by spyware, or ‘adware’ as it’s otherwise known.

Prevention is the best defence against the scourge of spyware. The most common way your computer can become infected is to open unknown attachments, so make sure that your company has a policy of investigating attachments before opening them and deleting suspect files immediately. Forwarding possibly infected files and emails to others is another classic spyware trap, so stamp out circular so-called ‘joke’ emails in your company before they wreck your computer system. They won’t seem so funny then.

Most spyware can be quarantined using a simple detection and removal program, so make sure you integrate this into your computer network and run a weekly scan for any viruses. Microsoft has been accused of allowing spyware to proliferate through bugs in its Internet Explorer software, so it offers a comprehensive detection package, as do most of the other big brands. Running this type of program regularly is especially important if your business downloads files or accesses unusual content from the internet on a regular basis, as this exposes you to greater risk.

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