I bet you never would have guessed it either. . .
But the shocking truth is that industry experts estimate that around 90% of computers are infected with spyware! Most of the support calls handled by Microsoft have spyware infection as the common theme and suspected cause of the problem. And while that might be the case, many computer users are still unaware of this growing threat or what steps they can take to get rid of spyware or avoid the threat altogether. But before getting into that, first you have to understand what spyware is.
Spyware is the term used to describe a type of malicious software that either alters a computers normal operation or (in some cases) allows partial control of a computer system by someone other than the authorized user(s) of that system. Spyware is usually installed without you knowing about it, either on its own or as part of another software program.
The threat spyware poses is twofold. First, it can exhaust your computer's resources (memory, CPU usage, etc), causing instability, system crashes, programs to hang or not work at all, slow performance, and a generally unpleasant and frustrating computing experience. Since many of us use our computers for work as well as entertainment, spyware can quickly go from being a mere “annoyance" to being a “productivity killer" for your business or employees. Some users even go so far as to buy an entirely new computer because the old one “just got too slow". This might not have anything to do with the age of the computer, memory or other issues, but could be a particularly bad case of spyware infection, so it would be wise to check this before forking over around $1000 for a new computer, which may not be needed.
The second threat spyware poses is even worse in that it can monitor various actions on your computer, for instance, websites you visit, passwords or account info you type in, etc and send that back to a third party, all right under your nose. Obviously this has implications to both the casual user and the business user. Unfortunately, once your system is infected with one type of spyware, there's a good chance you'll find others as well.
With the growing threat of spyware and the impact it can have on your computer, it's more important than ever that you take the time to educate yourself about what spyware is, its sources, and good security and internet surfing habits that can help you avoid possible spyware infection. In addition, you should research available spyware remover programs and use them in conjunction with your anti-virus program, both of which are now considered by computer security professionals as absolutely essential for safe computing.
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