How do I keep from getting spyware?

  • Watch what you download - Read the License Agreement for software you're installing. If you find something buried in the small print saying that by installing this software you agree to allow them to gather and/or share demographic data, subscribe you to or present you with advertising, be cautious about this software! When in doubt, go to a search engine such as Google and search for the name of the software and "spyware". (Ex. search for "Gator" "spyware".) If the software is a known spyware source, you'll find this out in your search results.

  • Tighten up your web browser - If you're using Internet Explorer, you should adjust some of the security settings to prevent malicious websites from downloading spyware on your machine without your knowledge. To do this:
    1. For most versions of Windows, click [Start], [Settings], [Control Panel]. For Windows XP, click [Start], [Control Panel].
    2. Double-click the Internet Settings icon. If you're in Windows XP and don't see an Internet Settings icon, click the "Switch to classic view" link at the top left of the screen.
    3. In the window that opens, click the [Security] tab, and click on the [Custom Level] button. Click on the following settings to check them:
      • Under "Download signed ActiveX scripts" click "Prompt".
      • Under "Download unsigned ActiveX scripts" click "Disable".
      • Under "Initialize and script ActiveX not marked as safe" click "Disable".
      • Under "Installation of Desktop items" click "Prompt".
      • Under "Launching programs and files in a IFRAME" click "Prompt".

      Click OK.

    4. Click the [Content] tab and click the [Publishers] button. Look through the list and delete anything you don't recognize.
    5. Click OK to close the Internet Settings window and save your settings.
    6. Now, when a web page attempts to load something to your computer you'll be notified. Before you click OK, make sure you know that the software it's asking you to install is not spyware!

  • Install a spyware blocker. The spyware scanners mentioned above will detect and remove spyware, but not all of them will prevent it from being re-installed on your machine. To block spyware, you can install a spyware blocker such as Spyware Blaster, Spysweeper, CounterSpy or Windows Defender. Please note that Spyware scanners and blockers are like Anti-virus software in that they need to be updated on a regular basis. Be sure your software is being updated regularly.