How To Prevent Spyware

How To Prevent Spyware

Spyware and other unwanted software can invade your privacy, bombard you with pop-up windows, slow down your computer, and even make your computer crash. Here are several ways you can help protect your computer against spyware and other unwanted software.

Step 1: Update your software

If you use Windows XP, one way to help prevent spyware and other unwanted software is to make sure all your software is updated. First, visit Windows Update to confirm that you have Automatic Updates turned on and that you've downloaded all the latest critical and security updates.

Step 2: Adjust your Internet Explorer Web browser's security settings

You can adjust your Web browser's security settings to determine how much—or how little—information you are willing to accept from a Web site.

If you're running Windows XP SP2 and you use Internet Explorer to browse the Web, your browser is already set to help protect against spyware and many other kinds of deceptive or unwanted software.

To view your current Internet Explorer security settings:

1. In Internet Explorer, click Tools and then click Internet Options.

2. Select the Security tab.
Tip: For a step-by-step guide to adjusting your settings without blocking content from sites that you trust, see Working with Internet Explorer 6 Security Settings.

Step 3: Use a firewall

While most spyware and other unwanted software come bundled with other programs or originate from unscrupulous Web sites, a small amount of spyware can actually be placed on your computer remotely by hackers. Installing a firewall or using the firewall that's built into Windows XP provides a helpful defense against these hackers. For more information, see  Why you should use a computer firewall.

Step 4: Surf and download more safely

The best defense against spyware and other unwanted software is not to download it in the first place. Here are a few helpful tips that can protect you from downloading software you don't want:

• Only download programs from Web sites you trust.

• Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download.

• Never click "agree" or "OK" to close a window. Always use the red "x" in the corner.

• Be wary of popular "free" music and movie file-sharing programs, and be sure you clearly understand all of the software packaged with those programs.

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