What is Spyware? And How to Prevent it

Last Updated:

Did you know:

Any time you use a device, it represents a risk that someone can access and steal your personal information.

One of the most common ways thieves do this is through spyware. Here's a closer look at what spyware is, how criminals use it, and ways you can stay safe from having your computer infected.

What is Spyware?

Spyware is unpredictable because you could download it onto your device without even knowing about it. Often, criminals are adept at designing malicious software, where you think you are downloading a program, but it contains spyware in it without the user's permission or knowledge.

Since criminals rely on user action as the main way of employing it, it's vital to have an antivirus program installed to protect your device.

Compare Internet, TV, & Home Phone

Compare Internet Providers by ZIP Code

Another way criminals can install spyware on your device is by drive-by download. How this works is criminals take advantage of an outdated web browser, operating system, or application. To demonstrate, say you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Since it's outdated, it might not have all the security tools updated, making it easier for you to unintentionally download a virus.

In the unfortunate event your device possesses a spyware infection, criminals have access to all your information. This includes collecting your internet activity, recording keystrokes, and changing settings on your device. The spyware compiles all this data and sends it to a third-party.

As you can imagine, spyware is one of the leading causes of identity theft because of the risk it represents. In the event your device is infected with spyware, use an antivirus software to remove it from your computer.

Read More: Don't know how to remove a virus/malware/or spyware from your computer? We'll show you how.

Other Ways Thieves Employ Spyware

Malicious software and using outdated web browsers are only two ways thieves can install spyware on your computer. Along with these methods, they might try to attack your email. If successful, it can install a Trojan horse on your device, which harvests your information for third-party use. Worst of all, anything you do online from file sharing to messaging you run the risk of incurring spyware.

Related: Malware is another common computer infection that can access your personal information. Learn more about malware here.

Spyware Symptoms

It's easy to detect if you have spyware on your device. One of the biggest indicators is the increase in pop-up ads. When you visit websites, you'll see your screen pop with many different ads. If you have accidentally downloaded a malicious program, then it can change your system's settings and disable security tools, reducing its ability to run efficiently and protect you.

You can have your internet connection provider run a diagnostic on their end to ensure nothing is wrong with the network. If they determine the network is running well, then the problem is on your end.

Pro Tip: Another telltale sign of spyware is a sluggish internet connection. We'll show you how to speed up a slow internet connection.

Moreover, as more of your system becomes compromised, along with pop-up advertisements, you'll notice slow performance when you try to execute any program. This is due to the malicious code of the software installed on the hard drive that is recording everything you do.

Not only will this lead to your information compromised, it will take up more of your computer memory. The more it takes up, the less is available to run programs in a normal fashion.

Lastly, you can use a program like spyware clear to see if your device is compromised. Anti-spyware software like this or the Spyware Doctor will scan all the files on your device to find any signs of malware or spyware. If they find infected files, the program will notify you immediately.

How Do I Remove Spyware?

There are spyware removal tools available. You can use security software to conduct a spybot search. Upon finding it, many internet software programs can isolate the files infected and remove them before they damage the rest of your device.

However, this is only part of the protection you need. You should have an anti-spyware program installed on your device at all times. This can notify you of any unwanted software installed containing malicious code that way your device doesn't become infected. Many programs like Norton Internet Security provides a regular scan of your files as well to ensure malware or spyware hasn't wormed its way in. If it has, it will isolate the files and delete them.

There are many antispyware software programs available. Some providers offer free software programs to detect any spyware or adware on a device. It's important to note that free programs don't come with the full complement of benefits paid software have. This can include features like systematic endpoint protection, Barracuda spyware firewall, which protects data on your device's end, and the removal tool in the event the software detects malicious code.

Any time you use a device, it represents a risk that someone can access and steal your personal information.


Overall, your information is valuable currency. Even code providers like Ubuntu and Windows have installed surveillance code in their software, which allows them to document everything you do. To avoid Ubuntu spyware, you should install an antivirus program.

Along with this, it's important to practice smart behaviors when online. This includes updating security programs when they become available, visit reputable websites, and don't click on links provided in email attachments or through instant messaging programs. These behaviors can help you avoid spyware altogether.

Compare Internet, TV, & Home Phone

Compare Internet Providers by ZIP Code

Leave a Reply

Replying to Cancel

Your comment has been submitted and is awaiting approval from one of our administrators. Thank you for your readership!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Submitting your comment...

Advertiser Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. See our Advertiser Disclosure

Full Advertiser Disclosure:

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups. However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers, and the information presented is not affected by compensation.

Our ranking system is independent of compensation and reflects our understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

for more details.