Though there are no warning signs to indicate that spyware or adware is being installed on your system, there are several telltale signs to alert you of their presence, once they install. I have compiled here for your convenience 10 telltale signs that can warn you of the presence of adware or spyware on your computer. Here they are.
1. Browser change:
Frequent, unauthorized changes in your browser landing page or homepage should be a warning sign that something is going on with your computer. Your home page is the first page that you come to when you log on to your internet account. Very often, this page is the home page of your Internet Service provider (ISP), except if you changed it. If you find your home page changing frequently to pages that you do not know, there is a good chance that your system is infected by spyware or adware.
2. Busy system or modem light:
A lighted system or modem indicator is a sign of ongoing activity. If you are not online using your computer, the modem indicator should not come alive. A flickering modem light when no one is online is a good indication that something is going on with your computer.
3. Influx of unwanted emails:
Everyone gets a certain amount of junk mail every day. However, a sudden spike in the number of unwanted emails to your computer should be a cause for investigation. There might be spyware working behind closed doors on your computer.
4. System slow down:
Have you noticed how your speed demon suddenly slowed down to a crawl like an old witch? If it is taking more time to launch your applications and even longer to load web pages, if your Windows XP or 2000 Task manager on launch indicates almost all available resources in use, you might be dealing with a case of spyware activity.
5. Unwanted redirects:
Spyware and adware have the ability to redirect your search to web sites or pages of the choosing of the program owners. If you end up at sites and webpages that you did not search for, there is a good chance that you are being redirected by the unseen hands of spyware and adware owners.
6. Intrusive banners:
Some spyware opens up your browser for an avalanche of banner displays. Very often, these banners are hard to close. A lot of times, they are replaced as quickly as you close them. Sometimes the banners are so plenty, they overwhelm your system resources.
7. Unwanted pop-ups:
Pop-ups when properly used, are a good resource to have on the web. They are used by responsible marketers to direct you to additional resources. However, pop-ups can be abused by aggressive advertisers through the use of adware or spyware. Disregarding professional marketing and advertising ethics aggressive advertisers employ adware and spyware scripts to spam your browser with unwanted and sometimes illicit offers.
Another variation is the use of personalized pop-ups. When you begin to receive multiple pop-ups with your name on them, that is an indication that someone is spying on you with spyware.
8. Unknown 900 numbers:
900 numbers are not very common. They usually carry a charge for access. Have you noticed a spike in your phone bill with charges to 900 numbers that you do not know? You might have been spied on a spyware program owner. It is believed that spyware and adware are responsible for a certain percentage of the identity theft crime that we see and hear about often today.
9. Foreign entries in your favorite folder:
If you all of a sudden begin to see foreign items in your favorite folder, be warned. There is a good chance that someone has caused those items to appear there. It is suggested that you check your favorite folder frequently and delete unfamiliar entries.
10. Additional browser toolbars:
The presence of a toolbar that you did not install on your system, may well be another telltale sign of spyware presence.
The average Internet user does not ordinarily fool around with toolbars. Most people are satisfied with the Internet Explorer, Yahoo, and maybe Google toolbars. If a toolbar looks unfamiliar to you, it probably is and should be investigated and possibly removed.
Finally, there are times when it may seem all is well. Do not rest of your oars. A good rule of thumb for living on the internet is to do your due diligence. Be proactive. Deploy some security systems and scan your computer frequently as some spyware and adware operate in stealth.
Your system is your investment. Protect it.