Spyware is a general term for software that displays advertisements, collects personal information, or changes the configuration of your computer without properly obtaining your consent.
Spyware has the potential to collect data from your computer, including personal and financial information. It can also allow its creator to access your computer files. You may have heard spyware called other names including adware, malware, scumware, and many less-complimentary names.
I Have Spyware. What Should I Do?
- Shutdown the computer immediately.
- Unplug your computer's network cable (the cable that looks similar to a telephone cord).
- Contact the ITS Help Desk at (850) 474-2075.
- Change your ArgoNet password from another computer or web-enabled device.
- Perform an on-demand scan of your whole computer with your anti-spyware software. Consult your vendor's website for instructions.
- If you are unable to remedy the spyware, it may be beneficial to consult a third party support provider for additional assistance.
- Change your passwords.
There are two strategies used by spyware developers to get on your computer. The first method is “bundle and bury,” where spyware creators pay to have their programs bundled with legitimate software. The unsuspecting victims only realize that they are installing spyware if they read the fine print of the end-user license agreement.
The second method is the unsuspecting download. Many companies create web pages which install software onto your computer for legitimate purposes. Spyware creators use this functionality to install their spyware on your computer, without your knowledge, as you browse the Internet. Some web browsers will attempt to inform you of the download by displaying a dialog box; however, most people reflexively click the OK button when presented with a dialog box and do not read the text.
- Regularly scan your computer with trusted anti-spyware software.
- Do not download freeware or shareware; these programs often contain spyware or malicious applications.
- Beware of music and file sharing services. Even services that charge you for downloads can contain spyware. Stick with trusted sites like iTunes and Amazon.
- Do not install anything without knowing exactly what it is and where it's coming from.
- Do not open unsolicited email. Delete it without reading it.
- Do not click on links or buttons in pop-up windows.
You may have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer if...
- You see pop-up advertisements even when you're not on the Internet.
- Your homepage changes without your knowledge.
- You notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn't want.
- Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.
- You experience a sudden rise in computer crashes.
- Your anti-spyware software stops working correctly.
Anti-Spyware Software Protection
UWF is not responsible for the quality, performance, or reliability of third party tools. Spyware protection is available free for personal use by the following vendors:
Anti-spyware software detects and removes spyware from your computer. Never use anti-spyware software that has not been recommended by a legitimate source; sometimes spyware developers will disguise spyware as anti-spyware software.