A lot of unwelcome software ends up on your computer in part because of something you did or did not do. Here’s how to avoid unwanted spyware or adware:
Be selective about what you download to your computer. Make sure you really need a program before downloading it. And if you’ve never heard of the software maker, read its website carefully to learn more about the people behind the technology, as well as the technology itself. Also, watch out for ActiveX, which is a common tool for installing spyware without your knowledge or consent. You can turn off ActiveX via your browser preferences and you can always turn it back on should a trusted site require it.
Read licensing agreements. It can seem daunting to read these agreements, but to play it safe, don’t just scroll to the bottom and click the “I accept” button when installing freeware. Instead, read each agreement carefully and look for language pertaining to any information-gathering activity, which could mean that you’ll get spyware or adware along with your freebie.
Watch out for anti-spyware scams. The Web is rife with “anti-spyware” tools that do little or nothing to prevent spyware. Some even make it worse. Purveyors of these tools often provide free scans, which almost invariably identify hundreds of spyware programs on your computer. They then immediately ask you to buy their bogus product.
Beware of clickable advertisements. Try to avoid programs–especially freeware–that flash clickable ads. These ads should be a red flag. If you click the ads, it’s possible someone is watching how you respond to them.
Unfortunately, spyware and adware aren’t going away any time soon. But you can take control by deciding what gets in, what stays out, and what remains on your computer