Anti-spyware packages complement and add an extra layer of protection along with your anti-virus package. Spyware is software which has usually been installed in the background along with something else you have actively installed. It's quite common for this to be picked up via peer-to-peer file sharing sites or as part of 'free' software.
The term 'spyware' includes 'adware' which may contain 'pop-ups', downloaded adverts or links to retail sites (often for gambling or porn) and software which will try and block your access to certain websites or even re-direct you to places you don't want to go! It also includes software which will shut down your anti-virus protection or block you receiving updates for it, or even track your online movements and then target you with specific advertising.
More extreme (although unfortunately not uncommon) versions can include monitoring software which sits quietly in the background and logs the keys you type to get your passwords, scans your disk for personal information such as bank details and passwords and takes screen shots of the sites you visit. This information it then sends to organised online criminal groups for them to use.
Other common effects of the presence of this software on your machine include:
- Making it run slowly
- Making it prone to crashing frequently
- Changing your web browser home page
- Adding new search bars to the top of your browser
To find out how to get hold of and use this type of protection, take a look at our 'How to help yourself' page.