What is spyware and how does it get on my computer?
Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge.
Spyware is software that gathers information about you, your browsing and Internet usage habits, as well as other data. Many users inadvertently download spyware when downloading other programs. Many popular peer to peer applications and other software packages include spyware. Even seemingly innocuous programs such as coupon printers can contain spyware. In addition, many websites and advertising banners set cookies on your system that track your web usage.
Why is spyware a danger?
Spyware can gather information about you, your browsing habits, as well as other data. Cookies set by websites can allow these applications to track which websites you visit; this is especially dangerous as some cookies can contain user login and password information for the website which created it. In addition spyware can slow your system down, hog system resources, and use network bandwidth. Some spyware can even be malware and open your system to attack or cause system problems.
What can you do about it?
1) Use the current version of your internet browser. Older versions of browsers (ie: Firefox / Internet explorer) are prone to bugs. Updating to a newer version will help close those loop holes.
2) Do not download suspicious programs, and check programs before you install them. Websites that pop up messages asking you to download software should not be trusted unless you know what that software is or unless you requested it. Often, choosing the “advanced” or “custom” install for software will allow you to de-select components and you can remove spyware from the installation process.
3) Do NOT install toolbars in your browser
The list below provides examples of common software that include spyware:
Additionally, certain websites and search terms can send you to malicious sites. Websites are becoming the favorite method of deploying spyware. They can be a whole website, pop up, or just an ad on a page. Here are some examples of search terms that send you to dangerous sites:
– word unscrambler
– music downloads
– various song lyrics
– game cheats
Please remember that you are issued university owned computers and they should be treated as such. Following the above tips will be a great start to avoiding infecting your computer with spyware and being without a working computer for several days while the IT team diagnoses and cleans the infection.
What can you expect when dropping off your computer for a spyware/virus?
– You will NOT receive a loaner computer
– Your computer will be returned to you within 3 business days
– Once we begin the cleaning process, scans will not be interrupted until spyware/virus has been completely removed.
– If we find your computer is severely infected (ie. Rootkit), the computer will be reimaged. You will be notified by the tech before this process begins.
*When your computer is reimaged your data WILL BE backed up, however, a copy of your data will not be provided to you in the meantime.