Broadly speaking, spyware is any software that is covertly installed on a user’s computer without their informed consent and can interfere with the user's actions or take partial control of the computer. Spyware usually monitors the user’s behavior and collects personal information but can also redirect users to false sites (phishing), hijack the brower’s homepage, or even cause slow connection speeds by changing internet connection settings. Spyware can also cause pop-up advertisements that may be irritating or offensive.
Spyware can infect your computer in a variety of manners, ranging from being installed as part of a software bundle (with certain file-sharing programs) to disguising itself as a helpful toolbar or disk cleaner. Often, there will be an initial popup which states that your computer is not secure and you need to download a certain 'antivirus' program to clean your computer. When you click on the link, it downloads the spyware and installs it, infecting your computer.
To eliminate spyware, Residential Networking recommends the following programs:
These applications will search your hard drive, RAM, and registry for spyware that may be present on the computer and remove it. Both programs can be installed on the computer at the same time, unlike anti-virus software. Residential Networking recommends that you install both programs, as it will maximize the spyware that will be detected and deleted.