What is spyware?
Spyware is a software that downloads itself to your computer bundled up as a hidden component within other software such as freeware or shareware programs and audio files. Spyware programs secretly gather important information about you—passwords, email addresses, and credit card numbers—and send it to someone else on the Web. These programs may also modify your system settings and insert embedded keys in the registry without your consent.
Many advertising-supported (adware) software programs are also spyware. These programs are used to play, display, and download advertisements on your computer. Many times, these adware programs work like spyware and transmit your personal information to external sources.
Spyware Problems: Symptoms
You are quite likely to have a spyware problem on your system, when you notice the following:
- Additional toolbars, links, and favorites that you did not create or install in your Internet Explorer.
- The default home page of your Web browser, mouse pointers, or even your default search program has changed.
- Your browser is behaving erratically and taking you to a site other than the one you want to open.
- The number of pop-up ads has suddenly increased and the performance of your system has deteriorated.
There are some spyware programs that do not give any indications of their existence on the system. The only purpose of these programs is to collect your personal and confidential information and send it to a hacker.
Effects of Spyware on the System and Registry
Although it usually works in the background, a spyware affects your system in two ways.
First, it periodically scans through the entire system to collect information thereby eating up a lot of system resources by running its executable files and slowing down your PC. Therefore, applications on systems infested by spyware may take hours to load.
Second, due to a large number of entries added to it by spyware, the registry gets filled up with unwanted information. Usually, spyware does not add information to your registry on its own. However, when the registry records all the activity on the computer, it automatically records the information related to the spyware activity. Spyware may also add an embedded key within the registry. The embedded spyware registry key is non-removable and therefore, the spyware can easily stay within the registry, evading most of the simple cleaning activities.
All spyware registry records and entries add up, increasing the registry size, making it unstable, and slowing system performance.
Preventing Spyware Problems
To prevent and fix spyware attacks on your PC, you must regularly run antivirus and anti-spyware programs on the system. Some of the popular anti-spyware software are Microsoft Windows Defender, Spyware Nuker, and Spyware Doctor. Anti-spyware software prevent spyware and malicious adware from creeping into your system. These programs also scan through your system to search for and help in their removal from the system. Due to an increasing need to keep PCs safe from the hands of spyware, a large number of antivirus programs also provide spyware protection.
In addition to antivirus and anti-spyware programs, you must also try to use an advanced registry cleaner software to deep scan your registry for errors. An advanced registry cleaner helps you easily weed out embedded spyware registry keys and enables you to maintain a healthy and compact registry.
Today, numerous spyware and adware programs are lurking around in various applications and files available for download on the Internet. Therefore, all systems that are connected to the Internet must have an anti-spyware program on their system to prevent these malicious programs from making their way on to your system. You may also use an advanced registry cleaner to scan the registry and clean spyware registry keys.