O'Reilly logo

The Internet: The Missing Manual by David Pogue, J.D. Biersdorfer

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Defeating Spyware

Spyware often arrives on your machine nestled inside the installer files for free software you download from the Internet—a game or file-sharing program, for example. Unfortunately for Windows fans, your operating system is spyware's prime target. Some spyware hogs your computer's processor, slowing it to a crawl and even causing other programs to crash. More belligerent types of spyware and overly aggressive adware give new meaning to the word nuisance—constantly changing your browser's home page, adding unwanted bookmarks, or pestering you with pop-up ads. And as it transfers information about you across the Internet, spyware can even create holes in your computer's security.

Sadly, it was probably you—yes, you—who let that spyware onto your computer in the first place. If you're like most people, you probably never read all the fine print on that dreary screen of legalese that you have to click through every time you install new software. But if you'd read the user agreement, you may have seen that you were agreeing to allow the software's maker to monitor and collect information about your computer or Web-surfing habits. (Some spyware is so sneaky, though, that it may not even come with a legal agreement; it will just slither onto your PC without announcing itself.)

Here's a representative bit of creepy fine-print legalese, whereby you install a program: "…in exchange for your agreement to also install ad-serving software, which will display pop-up, pop-under, ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required