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Preventing Spyware

Like many more serious things in life, preventing spyware is better than dealing with it.  There are many basics steps you can take to help reduce your chances of spyware infection.  In addition, some programs help you take active steps in blocking the download of known malicious products.

Safe Surfing

Since most spyware finds its way to your computer through Internet Explorer, you should download an alternative browser right now.  I recommend either Opera or FireFox.  All alternative browsers come with pop-up blockers that are crucial in the war against spyware.  Furthermore, most of these browsers don’t the same well-known vulnerabilities as Internet Explorer.

Aside from having an alternative browser, you will need to change your browsing habits and patterns to avoid spyware.  For one thing, NEVER click on a pop-up advertisement.  This will lead to bad things, time and time again.  Never download programs that aren’t coming from a secure source.  Some websites use pop-ups and dialog boxes that don’t give you a choice (choosing anything will download the spyware) so sometimes you’ll just have to end the process through your task manager if you’re in a tough spot.

Active Prevention

Despite all of your most valiant efforts to avoid spyware, it’s inevitable that you’ll be infected.  Some programs like ad-aware and Spybot have real-time features that can actively block the download of spyware programs and cookies onto your computer.  Ad-Aware’s real-time prevention is not free, while Spybot’s immunization and download blocker features come along with the freeware program. 

Avoiding Seedy Programs

Many programs available for free online come with some form of spyware.  Popular programs like Kazaa are cesspools for spyware downloads.  Do yourself a favor and don’t use crappy programs like Kazaa, Gator, and the whole slew of ’system monitors’ and ’weather updates’ that promise information downloaded directly to your start bar.

By making an effort to surf safely, and doing it in conjunction with some form of real-time prevention, you can eliminate a large proportion of spyware on your computer.  When the dust has settled, you can expect only a few spyware programs to slip by.  Those can be easily dealt with by reading our ’removing spyware’ section.