Similar to viruses, spyware is malicious software that collects personal information without the user's knowledge and sends it using the user's Internet connection.
It installs itself on a computer when a user is surfing the Web, downloading from an unreliable website or using an instant messaging or a file sharing software.
Signs that spyware may be present
- Your computer's performance has decreased and it is running slower
- Your computer's settings have been changed and you are unable to restore them
- Your Internet browser's home page changes repeatedly
- Annoying advertising windows continually pop up on your screen
- Unknown addresses appear on your Internet browser's Favourites List
- Your Internet browser re-directs you to websites that you have not entered
A fraudster may:
- Change how your computer works or even take control of it
- Collect personal information on your Internet surfing habits and computer activities
- Obtain passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) that you entered in order to defraud you
How can you protect yourself?
- Install spyware blocker (or antispyware)
- Keep your computer's security up to date
- Download programs only from reliable and reputable websites
- Be extra careful when downloading free programs
- Beware of file-sharing programs (music, films, etc.)