How To Get Rid Of Spyware And Adware

August 22, 2023 | Blog
How To Get Rid Of Spyware And Adware

Malware is an internet user’s adversary. It even sounds dangerous. And, to make it even more formidable, malware takes on many forms.

By definition, malware is a software program that is designed to “disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access” to an individual computer or network. The most common form is adware, comprising nearly half of all malware, according to industry estimates. One of the more problematic forms of malware is spyware, which is also a pretty prolific online predator.

Both forms of malware aim to monitor a user’s habits in different ways. 

Adware, which is deployed to a computer in the form of advertisements that generate money for a site, can track what sites a user visits, install additional programs and guide users to unsafe sites. Adware could also contain other malware, such as spyware or Trojan horse viruses, and it is considered one of the most difficult malware to remove from a device. 

Spyware is a software that runs in secret and targets sensitive information, like financial or personal data, about a user. This type of malware is considered a high security threat, in part because one of its tactics includes logging a user’s keystrokes to unlock passwords or other personal data. 

When it comes to malware, users should want nothing to do with either adware or spyware. And, users need to remember that both can infect any type of device, including phones. Not only does spyware work to collect sensitive data, but adware can noticeably impact the performance of a computer. 

The best way to find and disinfect your computer of spyware and adware is to utilize a reputable antivirus software that scans and removes malware. Before performing a scan, always backup important files to the cloud or an external hard drive. It is also recommended that users search their device to see if the adware program has an uninstaller before running a scan. 

For Windows, that would be found in the Control Panel under “Add/Remove Programs.” For Mac users, the Activity Monitor is where you would look for apps you don’t recognize. Apps that users don’t recognize, and apps that utilize an abnormally large amount of RAM or CPU are a red flag. Users should “force quit” those apps, find them in Finder and move them to the Trash. 

There may also be a need to remove adware from browsers. While the process is slightly different for Windows versus Macs and between preferred browsers, in general users should move unfamiliar apps to the trash, reset or “clean up” settings, remove extensions that appear to be malicious or unfamiliar, and reboot the computer. 

Once an antivirus is in place, and a device has been scanned for adware and spyware, it’s important for users to adopt habits that improve safety and minimize vulnerability while browsing. That means keeping operating systems and browsers up to date, avoiding suspicious downloads, reviewing terms and conditions so as not to agree to questionable downloads or access, watching bank statements for suspicious charges and steering clear of sites that facilitate illegal activity. 

Contact us to learn more about how our computer experts can offer you ongoing support for any issues you’re experiencing!

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