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Step 4: Understand what damage spyware can cause

Many spyware programs are more than just a hassle -- they're invasive and destructive.

General annoyance is probably the most common complaint about spyware. Pop-up advertising windows, unwanted toolbars, Internet Explorer or system tray icons, and unexpected changes in system functionality (such as having your browser's starting home page hijacked and changed to something else) are all common symptoms of infection.

These problems are bad enough in themselves, but many spyware programs are more than just a hassle -- they're invasive and destructive. They may log and track user browsing habits, which is typically an invasion of privacy. They may cause other programs to fail either because they have no friendly interaction (i.e. hijacking certain file extensions) or because spyware programs consume inordinate amounts of system resources.

The worst spyware also interfere with low-level system settings. Some rewrite the HOSTS file to redirect commonly-resolved network address names and hijack network traffic. Others may freely change Registry settings or install programs that masquerade as system-level services, which are nearly impossible to remove easily. Some even install themselves as low-level network components to do even more traffic snooping. Fortunately, because most spyware behave in a fairly obnoxious manner, they tend to at least alert the user to their presence before too long.

How to remove spyware

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Get familiar with spyware now if not already
 Step 2: Know where spyware comes from
 Step 3: Recognize how spyware acts
 Step 4: Understand what damage spyware can cause
 Step 5: Choose tools to clean up spyware
 Step 6: Use these advanced techniques to clean up spyware
 Step 7: Install service packs to prevent spyware infections
 Step 8: Take additional initiatives to prevent spyware infections
 Step 9: Plan ahead for new spyware tactics

Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!
Copyright 2005 TechTarget

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