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How Do I Perform a Spyware Check?

Spyware tracks how a computer is used.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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If you want to perform a spyware check, the first thing you’ll need is a piece of software designed for that purpose. There are many usable software products on the market, and many of them are available at no cost. Whatever software you choose, you need to make sure it is updated to the latest version before performing a check. Once everything is ready, you will simply follow the software instructions to perform the check, which may take several minutes. Once the software finishes checking, it will generally show you a list of suspicious files and programs, giving you options for what to do with them.

When spyware software performs a spyware check, what it’s really doing is scanning your hard drive for files that it recognizes. This type of software is distributed with an internal database of suspicious files that suggests a spyware infestation. Different types of spyware install on a computer in different directories, and this software is programmed to know what to look for.

There’s the equivalent of an arms race between various spyware detection software creators and the spyware makers. Those who make malicious software are constantly trying to stay a little bit ahead of the detection software so that their software isn't found and removed during a spyware check. This is why it is very important to make sure your spyware software is updated with the newest version of the database before performing a scan.

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Sometimes it can be helpful to know when to perform a spyware check. There are several signs you can look for, including a slowdown of your computer, unexplained pop-ups in your Internet browser, and general odd behavior from your computer that is unexplained. Spyware and adware generally install themselves in order to get information about your browsing habits or to send you advertisements against your will. In some cases, the software may be designed to do both. In order to accomplish these tasks, the software can sometimes seem to take over your Internet browser or at least change the way it functions.

There was a time when spyware was a more common problem. Companies that create Internet browsers didn’t have very many security measures in place, so it was easier to get spyware installed on people’s computers. Over time, Internet browsers were created with more stringent security measures, which generally decreased the number of spyware infestations for many people.

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