Video: 'Spyware' crackdown

updated 10/12/2004 7:47:19 PM ET 2004-10-12T23:47:19

WHAT IS SPYWARE?

  • It's software which is secretly placed on a person's computer and tracks their activities.
  • Spyware can monitor which Web sites you visit or even each keystroke you make.
  • The keystroke recording is particularly dangerous as it can lead to identity theft.
  • Spyware can also change some of the settings on your computer.

TELLTALE SIGNS OF SPYWARE

  • You get a barrage of pop-up ads
  • Your Internet browser takes you to sites other than the one you typed in
  • Your Internet home page suddenly or repeatedly changes
  • New and unexpected toolbars pop up
  • New and surprising icons appear at the bottom of the screen
  • Some computer keys don't work right (e.g. the "Tab" key might not move to the next field).
  • You get random error messages
  • Your computer is sluggish or slow when opening files or saving them.

HOW TO PREVENT SPYWARE

  • Update your Web browser and operating system software. They may offer spyware patches.
  • Only download software from sites you know and completely trust.
  • Make sure your browser is set at a sensitive enough level to pick up on unauthorized downloads. For example, you want at least the "medium" setting on Internet Explorer.
  • Don't click any links within a pop-up window. Close only using the "X" in top corner.
  • Don't click links that claim to offer anti-spyware programs.
  • Install a firewall to block uninvited users from gaining access to your computer.

IF YOU HAVE SPYWARE ON YOUR COMPUTER NOW

  • Buy an anti-spyware program from a vendor you trust.
  • Set it to scan at least once a week and every time you start your computer.
  • Delete any software the program detects that you don't recognize or want.

For more information, visit the Web site of the Federal Trade Commission.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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