There are plenty of reasons to be happy about the ever increasing technology of the Internet. One only has to recall the incredibly slow download speeds of dial up modems to appreciate this. But just as convenience and speed has increased, so has the dark underbelly of the Internet. Of course, I'm talking about spyware and adware. If you want to get a good handle on where it comes from, and what to do about it, keep reading.
First of all, spyware is any software that records any information, and then reports back to a third party. This are great if you are a parent or a boss, and are worried about how somebody is using a shared computer. This can be a real pain when the spyware was installed by somebody intending to collect information to help their marketing efforts. In the first case, it's obvious where the spyware came from. But what about the second case?
Spyware comes from three basic sources. One of the main sources is through free downloaded software. A developer that makes a software program can still make money enough though they give it away for free. The program comes with software that collects information, and if useful information is collected, the program developer can get paid. Applications for your desktop, dubious file sharing software to download music and movies, and various other "free" software usually come with a hidden price. Be careful what you download.
Another source of spyware is through email attachments. These are called "Trojan horses," after the Greeks who used a big wooden horse to sneak into Troy and kill everybody. Unless you personally know the person sending you an email, be extremely careful when clicking on any attachment.
The third major source of spyware is certain web sites that install software simply by visiting the site. Be extremely careful of clicking on any links that you don't recognize. Although browsers are continually updating to try and prevent this, many times they are slightly behind the curve, and you can be in danger if you click on a link that you don't recognize.
The best way to guard against spyware is to have a robust anti spyware software on your system that can both scan for and remove software, as well as protect against it being installed in the first place. While there are several free programs, often times they aren't up to date enough to protect against the most recent spyware developments. For a modest fee, you can easily and effectively protect your system from any and all invasions by third party spyware.