Spyware prevention 101

Spyware goes by many names, including adware, malware, crimeware, scumware and snoopware, but no matter what you call it, its purpose is still the same: to creep into your computer files and steal your personal information.

Once the information is in their hands, hackers can steal your identity, use your credit cards, siphon funds from your bank accounts, and more.

Simply put: it’s bad news and you want nothing to do with it.

The good news is that spyware prevention is possible — and there are many ways to keep these dangerous programs at bay.

In addition to installing the right software, consumers can practice these computer security tips from Webroot:

Download software directly from the source. Primary common distributor of spyware information infection is free, pirated programs downloaded from file-sharing sites which have been booby-trapped with malware. Set your browser security settings to “high” and protect yourself from “drive-by” downloads and automatic installations of unwanted programs.

Avoid questionable websites, such as those featuring adult material. They’re notorious for spreading spyware threats and causing users problems.

Use a firewall and be suspicious of email and IM. For instance:

  • Don’t open attachments unless you know the sender and are expecting a file from him or her.
  • Delete messages you suspect are spam (don’t even open them).
  • Avoid clicking on links within messages.
  • Do not provide personal information to unsolicited requests — even if they seem legitimate. Instead, if you receive a request for personal information from your bank or credit card company, contact that financial institution directly, but do not click on a link embedded in the email message.
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