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spyware

All Spyware – Nuisance or Threat?

Knowing what to look for can help keep your computer and our organization’s network safe from spyware.

Spyware and other malicious software (malware) costs businesses billions of dollars.

Spyware is a type of malicious software (malware) installed on computers and networks that collects information about you and our organization secretly. It’s called “spyware” because if you’re like most people, you won’t even know it’s on your computer. In a study by AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance, researchers discovered that 61 percent of surveyed users’ computers were infected with spyware. And nearly all of the surveyed users—91 percent!—said they had no idea that their computer had spyware.

Why spyware is dangerous?

Spyware doesn’t just “spy” on your computer activity, it can also:

  • Record your logins and passwords.
  • Collect personal and proprietary information about you, our organization, and our customers.
  • Track the website URLs you visit.
  • Record a history of every website you visit.

Spyware can also affect your computer in a variety of ways. For example, it can install software, redirect to different web locations and browsers, and change settings on your computers—all without your permission.

How to tell if your computer has been infected with spyware?

Spyware is very difficult to detect. Here are a few signs that may indicate that your computer is infected:

  • Poor performance: Tired of dealing with a sluggish computer? Don’t blame old technology. Maybe your computer is infected.
  • New toolbar buttons: Don’t blame magic for the new toolbar buttons that have appeared on your desktop. Maybe your computer is infected.
  • Slow internet connection: Taking forever to download that report from work? Maybe your computer is infected.
  • Your browser’s home page is changed: Don’t blame IT for the sudden change. Maybe your computer is infected.

Getting rid of spyware

If you suspect that your computer is infected with spyware, don’t do anything on your own.

Check with our organization’s policies for instructions or contact the Information Technology (IT) department.

Preventing spyware

The first line of defense in preventing infection by spyware and other malware is the up-to-date antivirus protections and firewalls supported by our organization.

Make sure you always practice good computer hygiene and follow our organization’s policies on internet and e-mail use, and downloading software.

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