What is spyware/adware?
Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program itself is running.
Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person, organization, or computer without user knowledge or consent.
What does all that mean?
Basically, adware and spyware are tools that advertisers, marketers and spammers use to attain personal information about users which can then be reported on, or sold to advertisers and other interested parties. In the case of spyware, this information is exploited and harvested without the user's consent and can be used to invade your privacy and compromise your personal data. They can collect personal information from your machine and also monitor your internet website viewing habits. Adware is a form of direct marketing, it places ad banners, toolbars, pop-up windows or changes your browser homepage to something other than what you intended with the express purpose of generating sales.
How do I know if I have spyware/adware?
While most spyware and adware programs are intended to run undetected on users computers, there are some tell tale signs that you may have some spyware and/or adware lurking somewhere on your system:
- When you start your internet browser, your homepage has mysteriously been changed
- Items mysteriously appear in your žFavoritesÓ list within your internet browser, without you putting them there
- Your system seems to slow down, even when you're not running a lot of programs. You may also notice a marked performance loss when starting up your machine and when shutting it down.
- An unwanted Search bar or Toolbar may appears in your internet browser, and even upon uninstall it persists.
The best way to know for sure whether your system or data is being compromised by spyware and adware is to run a system scan using a spyware and adware removal tool.
Spyware/Adware Removal Tools
What is spyware/adware removal software?
Spyware/adware removal software is a special kind of program that is written to isolate and remove spyware and adware from your computer.
How does spyware/adware removal software work?
Some spyware/adware programs can be installed and run as you need them. Other more advanced spyware/adware programs can be configured to automatically scan your computer for spyware/adware and updated themselves on a set schedule.
How to get Spyware/Adware Removal Software
As Webster University does not have full support in place for spyware/adware removal software, it is up to each individual user to research and determine what removal tools are best suited for his or her own needs and respective computer systems.
Currently, the Webster University Help Desk utilizes and recommends using Lavasoft Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy in tandem for spyware/adware removal on Windows machines. Both programs are removal tools only, and do not act as preventative measures. System scans must be run regularly with updated spyware/adware definitions in order for the software to continually be effective. Both pieces of software are free for usage, and can be downloaded via the links provided below.
Please note that these pieces of software are recommended for usage on Windows machines. Currently, the Webster University Help Desk does not utilize or recommend spyware/adware removal tools for Macintosh machines, as the spyware/adware threat to a Macintosh is very low. While the Webster University Help Desk does not have a recommendation in place for removal tools on Macintosh machines, Macintosh users concerned about spyware/adware on their machines are encouraged to view our Spyware/Adware Protection section and to further research software solutions on their own.
Before installing any software on a machine, it is up to each individual user to research the software and how it interacts with his or her own machine. Again, Webster University does not offer full support for spyware/adware removal tools, so it is strongly advised that users familiarize themselves with system requirements of the software, functions of the software, and various other support considerations to ensure best results.
The following links contain information and free downloads for Lavasoft Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. To download, look for a žDownloadÓ link on each site, and look for the free version for download.
Spybot Search and Destroy:
The following guidelines will help you protect your computer system from spyware/adware:
- Be judicious in what websites you choose to view and frequent. The viewing of websites with suspect content (i.e. those with content that is lewd, explicit, illegal, etc.) may install malicious spyware/adware on your machine without your knowledge.
- Do not utilize file sharing services (popularized for the downloading of music, but used for other purposes as well). Often times the software associated with these services utilizes spyware/adware.
- Do not click on pop up ads while viewing internet sites. Sometimes one click on an ad can cause many spyware/adware headaches down the road.
- Be judicious in your software download practices. Certain free shareware programs contain žadbotsÓ and other spyware/adware software which collect personal information from your machine.
The websites, files, information and recommendations contained on the Spyware/Adware Page are being made available by Webster University to assist the Webster University community. Webster University is not responsible for any lost data, or for direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental, damages arising from the use of information contained on this page.