Identifying, Avoiding & Removing Spyware

Published 12/05/2004 16:09   |    Updated 29/02/2008 11:05
What do I need to know about Spyware?

Browsing and downloading software from the Internet is convenient, fun and safe, as long as uninvited software, or ‘Spyware’, doesn’t come with it.


What is Spyware?

‘Spyware’ is software that is downloaded onto your hard disk, without your knowledge. Once there, it can collect information from your computer system and may transmit it elsewhere.

It may also gather and transmit information about e-mail addresses, passwords and credit card numbers. Often Spyware is used for advertising purposes and is relatively innocuous. There are several different types of Spyware, however, some more harmful than others.


How do I recognise Spyware?

You may have contracted Spyware if the following symptoms occur:

  • Pop-up ads appear, even offline, often for 'adult' sites.
  • Your homepage and/or search settings unexpectedly change.
  • Your browser toolbar changes and is hard to restore.
  • System performance deteriorates unexpectedly.


How do I avoid Spyware?

Install an anti-spyware application, such as the ones mentioned in this website. Ensure the application is kept up to date.


Use a firewall. A firewall will help prevent unauthorized access to your computer.

Adjust security settings on your browser to a sufficiently high level: - the higher the security level, the lower the risk.

By default, Internet Explorer, classifies all web sites into a single zone (the Internet zone) and assigns everything medium level security. When you are using this level of security, Internet Explorer will ask you to confirm that you want to download a file, unless you have previously indicated that the website or publisher is trusted.


If you are using an alternative Web browser, check the providers’ instructions on how to limit your exposure to Spyware by configuring the browser settings.

Be security conscious when surfing and downloading:

  • Only download from sites you trust.
  • Read security information before you download software.
  • Never click “agree” or “OK” to an unexpected pop-up or window. Instead, close the window by clicking on the “x” button on the top right hand corner of the window.
  • Be wary of “free” music or movie file sharing programs; Spyware is prevalent on some well known file sharing sites.


What to do if you think your PC is infected with Spyware

  • Install and run anti-spyware software to remove any Spyware from your system.
  • Keep it updated and use it to perform regular checks on your computer system.

There are many free anti-spyware software programs you can download from websites such as


It is also always useful to also try using a different website browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera.

Note: BT cannot be held responsible for the content or advice given by external websites, nor the result of misconfiguration arising from such advice.



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