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What Is ''Spyware''?
Spyware is the general term used for software or applications most commonly seen as advertising software and surveillance software.

Advertising software (a.k.a., adware) can gather personal information and/or display advertisements (pop-ups), sometimes in unexpected instances while you are using your computer. Some adware can log information about the user, including passwords, e-mail addresses, Web-browsing history, online buying habits, the computer's hardware and software configuration, as well as the user's name, age, gender or other personal information.

Surveillance software may perform surveillance of your computer, including collecting personal information (e.g., bank account or credit card numbers). Surveillance software can include key loggers that track keystrokes, even in instant message sessions, and Trojan horses that can take control of your PC.

Regardless of the type, surveillance and/or advertising software can also interfere with the ordinary functioning of your computer or other software on your computer.

How Does Spyware/Adware Get on My PC?
Spyware or adware can get on to your PC through files or software that you download from the Internet.

The most common example would be free file-sharing software. As the software is free, the programmers often include adware as a way of generating advertising revenue. (The data captured from your PC can then be used to send you targeted advertising via your Web browser. You may have agreed to the inclusion of this potential spyware as part of your end user license agreement for this freeware.)

How Can I Protect My PC Against Spyware?
There are two steps you can follow to help keep your PC free of spyware:

1. Be careful about what you download: For files attached to e-mail you receive, do not download them if they come from someone you do not know, or if you have any doubts about their source.
2. For software you download from the Web, read the documentation or ''End User License Agreement'' to see if any ''third party software'' is included in the download.

Remember, if in doubt -- don't download it!

Install spyware-protection software: There are also many other free versions of spyware-protection software available, and depending on how actively you download software from the Internet, it may be a good idea to run several different spyware-protection programs. Spyware-protection vendors detect different applications at any given time. For more thorough protection, here are two anti-spyware programs that can be used to help protect you from spyware:
Spy Sweeper
Spyware Doctor
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