Spyware, a particularly nasty form of malware, can get onto your computer system and really botch things up. This software is designed to literally spy on you and your online activities. The majority of identity theft cases involving computers have been due to spyware activity. These nasty programs can easily steal your personal information and use it for illegal and fraudulent means.
Unfortunately many people have no idea that their computer is infected with spyware. Spyware can cause many of the same symptoms as computer viruses. You could scan your computer time and again thinking you have a virus only to find that there is nothing wrong. When this happens, it's time to invest in spyware detection and removal software and scan your system again. More than likely you have been infected with spyware.
How can you tell if you have spyware running on computer?
1) It is difficult to remove software from your system. They computer simply will not let you or the software comes back after you've deleted it.
2) The anti-virus and anti-spyware program on your computer is no longer functioning properly, has stopped working all together or gives you strange error messages whenever you need to do something with it.
3) The homepage on your internet browser has been changed and you have not physically changed it. Additionally, your toolbars may have new buttons on it for programs that have self-installed onto the computer that you did not authorize.
4) Look at your internet browser bar to see if there have been any changes to it. Quite often additional buttons or other features are added to the browser bar when spyware is infecting your system.
5) Inspect your address bar and favorites menu to see if web pages that you did not put there are suddenly listed in them. Also, look at the search pages that appear with your query. If some of them do not match your query terms, it is a good sign something is wrong.
6) Computers that suddenly experience more than normal pop-up activity may be infected with spyware. The average rate for pop-ups is about one or two per website you visit. If you get more than that while surfing there is a problem.
7) Pop-ups that occur when you are offline or not surfing the internet is also a good indication that you have spyware infecting your computer, quite possibly the number one indicator that something is wrong.
8) Check to see if your modem lights flash when you are not on the internet or playing games. Additionally, if you are still using a dial-up connection, review your telephone bill for phone calls that you did not make, especially if the bill seems extremely high.
9) Finally, if your computer is running very slow and there are no viruses on your computer after running a virus scan, scan your system for spyware. These programs can run in the background without you ever knowing it and use up all of your system resources until your computer simply crashes.