Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Five Signs Your Computer May Have A Spyware Infection

These days, spyware is everywhere. As Anti-Spyware programs get stronger, spyware continues to become trickier. Because of this, in my opinion, you simply cannot rely on running a spyware scanner to tell you if you have a spyware infection or not. You need to be able to notice other signs that you may have a spyware infection. Because let's face it, unless you have some type of spyware guard that runs 24/7, it's possible you will get an infection between scans with whichever spyware scanner you use. And if you go weeks between scans, the spyware could really harm your computer.

Now, just because you may notice one of these signs doesn't mean for sure that your computer has a spyware infection. It is still possible it doesn't. However, in my opinion, noticing any of these signs is enough reason to run a scan as soon as possible. Anyway, let's get right to the signs. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. IExplore.Exe

Try looking at the list of running processes on your computer. (Ctrl+Alt+Del - Processes (On Windows Xp) ). Do you see IExplore.Exe running? Well, if you are viewing this article in Internet Explorer or have Internet Explorer open in the background, then you shouldn't worry about seeing IEXplore.EXE in your process list. However, if you close out of Internet Explorer or you restart the computer and IEXplore.Exe or IEXplorer.exe is running when you clearly don't have Internet Explorer running, then this is a sign that you may be infected with Spyware. Many types of Spyware and Virus will run as IExplore.exe in the process list to confuse you with Internet Explorer. I have seen this happen many times when fixing computers.

2. Unexplainable Pop-Ups?

Pop-Ups can still be a problem for some internet users who don't use pop-up blockers. It can be common to go to websites and experience many pop-ups. However, if you are getting pop-up windows at times that you don't think you should be any, that may be a sign of an infection. This could be when you aren't surfing the web, when you first turn on the computer, etc. If you are experiencing this, run a scan!

3. Infection Warnings?

Are you receiving numerous warnings of an infection on your computer? If so, the warnings may be the infection in itself! Spyware programs displaying fake warnings to get you to download more spyware is becoming a lot more common these days. Many times they will use pop up boxes from your windows tray to warn you. They do this because these boxes look legitamate and look like they come from Windows. They don't! I can't think of a scenario where you would get any type of box like that unless it is from a
spyware scanner you already use. Even if you feel this box may be from your scanner, play it safe and don't click the box. Just open up your scanner regularly and do a scan.

4. Start-Up Items

Another quick way to look for a possible infection is to look at a list of items set to run on startup. Now, you can do this without downloading any programs. But I recommend downloading a program like StartUp Manager that will easily show you a list of what is running at startup.

Anyway, look at the list of items running at startup. Has anything been added since the last time you checked what is running at startup? If there are new items and you don't recognize them, this may be a sign of a spyware infection that is set to run when you turn your computer on.

5. Different Browser Home Page?

And finally, if you open your internet browser and your homepage has changed, this is definitely a sign that you may have a spyware infection. Changing your browser homepage is one of the oldest tricks in the book for a Spyware Infection. If your homepage has changed and you didn't change it, run a scan!

If you remember to look for these signs, you just may spot a spyware infection before you find out from your spyware scanner. Remember though, before running a spyware scan, ALWAYS update it first!

Stay safe!

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