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Combating Spyware

It seems to happen slowly at first – your Internet browser just doesn't load pages as quickly as it used to, and you get the feeling that Web surfing is more like Web crawling. One possible cause of the bottleneck might be that your computer system has become the victim of spyware.

The term spyware is a generic term for advertising software that is also referred to as adware. This software enables advertising firms to install a tracking program on your computer and in most cases it is done legally. The software creates a drain on your system because it is continuously sending statistical data back to the firm that is using it without you being able to control what is sent. In most cases, these are legitimate firms who simply want to track user behavior and promote products.

So how did you get this program on your system? Probably with a freeware program you or a family member downloaded to get a cool toolbar, cute cursor or smiley face, just to name a few. While in some cases this may be just a nuisance, there are also malicious hackers who have created spyware programs for the sole purpose of collecting sensitive data from your system. The spyware program in itself may allow software to read, write and delete files; download and install other software; change the default home page; monitor keystrokes; interrogate other devices attached to the system; or even format the hard drive. Your computer is vulnerable, and – more important – your privacy is at risk when spyware is utilized by criminals.

Fortunately, you can combat spyware/adware programs with software designed to find and delete the programs from your computer. In addition, these sorts of programs can protect you from downloading spyware/adware in the future. There are a variety of anti-spy software programs available; we recommend you research what is best for you. You can find more information by visiting these sites: Microsoft Security, www.spychecker.com, and www.getnetwise.org.

Your first line of defense is to proactively protect your system from being susceptible to spyware/adware. As part of that defense, you should also install firewall and anti-virus protection software to further secure your computer system. We encourage you to learn more about the Regions Privacy & Security policies and what you can do to protect yourself online.