GetNetWise Spotlight on Spyware
More and more computer users are finding unwanted programs operating on their machines that perform all sorts of annoying functions. These programs often display unwanted ads, change users' browsers' default home pages, add programs to the system tray and, in some cases, collect personal information. These programs are installed without meaningful consent and are almost always very difficult to uninstall or disable. They draw computing power away from your other applications making your computer sluggish and unstable.
If you've noticed any of these symptoms (and the other symptoms listed here), you may have picked up what's being called spyware or annoyware. These programs take on a variety of forms but they all have two things in common. First, they surreptitiously slink into your computer through e-mail, unauthorized Web downloads or by bundling themselves with other software you install. Second, users are almost always annoyed by their presence. These programs are often extremely difficult to find, uninstall or disable. Use the Tips, Tools, and suggested Actions below to deal with spyware. Download a free DELL/Sunbelt Spyware Scan.
If you have noticed your machine running slowly, adding an unusual number of "favorites" to your Web browser, changing your default home page, or receiving annoying or fishy pop-up ads, you might have spyware operating on your computer. More information.
Spyware is insidious because it is difficult to find, uninstall or disable; in most cases you'll need to use special software tools to extract spyware from your computer. Take into consideration that there is no agreement as to what qualifies as spyware, and the process of removing it may involve the removal of programs that others believe are perfectly legitimate and authorized. Also, some spyware programs may dig so deeply into your computer that removing them could make your system even more unstable. More information.
If you've found spyware on your computer that you believe was deceptively placed there, you can report the problem to the Federal Trade Commission or several advocacy groups. In this case, reporting the problem to your ISP or your computer manufacturer may not be the best course of action. More information.