Blizard Computer Service




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Blizard Computer Service

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Malicious Software Prevention
7/13/2016 (Source: Lars Blizard, Blizard Computer Service)

How do I know if my Computer has spyware and what can I do about it?

What is spyware?

Spyware is software that installs itself, in combination with a free download, on the user's system without the user's knowledge or explicit consent. Once it is installed, spyware tracks and transmits personal or sensitive user information, such as web-surfing habits, browser and system information and keystrokes.

For example, a keystroke logger records all of the user's keystrokes. The logged keystrokes are hidden in the computer for later retrieval or transmitted to the software creator or to a third party. The keystrokes are examined carefully in the hope of finding private information, such as passwords that can give access to financial information.

How pervasive is spyware? 

Conservative estimates claim that quarter to a third of all COMPUTERS are infected with spyware. Higher estimates claim that 90 percent of all COMPUTERS with Internet connections are infected with spyware.

What are the effects of spyware?

Spyware applications consume system resources. They often compromise system performance and can cause a user’s system to crash. However, spyware applications are designed to operate without the user’s awareness and to be difficult to remove.

When does spyware get installed on customers’ computers?

Spyware designers use many tactics to install spyware on customers’ COMPUTER without their explicit consent. Customers can practice the following sensible “Internet hygiene” to limit the amount of spyware that is loaded onto their computers.

Read license agreements carefully.

When downloading software from the Internet. Read the license agreement carefully before clicking “I Agree”. These agreements can contain small print about granting approval to install a “monitoring application” on the user’s computer.

Try to avoid spyware where it hides.

Download programs only from trusted websites. If you are uncertain about a website, conduct a web search to see if other users have reported spyware originating from that site. The best strategy for avoiding spyware is not to download it in the first place; download software only from the most trusted websites.

 • Hidden downloads: Some spyware is hidden in legitimate application downloads.

   Application designers sometimes claim the spyware is an integral part of the software, even when it isn't.

• Peer-to-peer file-sharing: Both illegal and legal peer-to-peer file-sharing networks are rife with spyware.

• Legitimate downloads: Spyware can be embedded in legitimate downloads without the host website's knowledge.

• Adult-content websites: Free downloads at adult-content websites are notorious for containing embedded spyware. Avoid any movie with an .EXE extension.

• EXE files: Never download EXE files unless they are from a trusted website.

• Clicking habits: Be conscious of clicking habits. Don't click OK or I Agree to close a window on the Internet; instead, click the "x" in the upper right corner of the window.

Question e-mail promising free spyware cleaners 

• Users receive e-mail stating that spyware has been detected on their systems.

• Users are directed to a website to download a free spyware detection or removal tool, when in fact the tool itself is spyware.

• When users download the application, it appears as if the system is being evaluated or cleaned, when in fact spyware is being installed.

Use e-mail cautiously.

  • Never open an attachment, even from someone you know, that you weren’t expecting.

  • Never respond to an e-mail asking for personal information.
  • Don*t reply to spam or click on its “unsubscribe” link. That tells the sender that your e-mail address is valid.
  • Forward fraudulent spam to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at

How do customers know their systems contain spyware?

• System is low on memory or resources

• A slow system that is low on memory or resources can be a symptom of spyware.

• The system hangs in one section when it first boots up.

• The system is slow to refresh a web page, especially with broadband.

• The user receives an alert that an application won't close. Read the alert carefully; the application that won't close could be spyware.

• There's a spike in the number of times the computer crashes.

• Pop-up ads are out of context.

• A pop-up ad can be a symptom of spyware:

• If the content of the ad bears no relation to the content of the website.

• If the ad appears when the user is not on the Internet, especially if the browser isn't open.

• Reconfigured registry settings don't remain in effect.

In Microsoft® Windows®, every aspect of the operating system is set in the registry. When you change a program setting, a change is made to the registry. A spyware application changes and monitors the registry settings, and keeps the registry configured for its own benefit. Symptoms of this include: 

• The homepage of your web browser changes to an advertising website.

• A program or search page setting that you reconfigure does not remain in effect.

• The COMPUTER seems possessed

• If a COMPUTER initiates actions on its own, spyware could be the problem.

Examples of this include:

• The hard drive is working when the user is not doing anything.

• There are unfamiliar icons in the lower right corner of the screen in the system tray.

• The CD drive and applications open and close.

• Unfamiliar toolbars appear in the web browser.

How can customers prevent spyware on their COMPUTER?

No one anti-spyware tool can detect and eliminate all spyware. A combination of tools is necessary.

Preventive measures:

• Most important, users should run spyware detection and removal software regularly, such as once a week.

Other preventive measures include:

• Installing a firewall ( your COMPUTER may come with one ) to block questionable incoming and outgoing messages and to prevent hackers from putting spyware

   on your system remotely.

• Using a web browser or installing add-in software that blocks pop-ups; Google and other search engine toolbars can do this for you for free.

• Staying current with security patches for the operating system.

• Adjusting the browser's security settings.


Blizard Computer Service recommends the following resources for obtaining information about security threats and how to protect against them:

Spyware article by Microsoft
Visit this website for the article, "What You Can Do about Spyware and Other Unwanted Software."

Federal Trade Commission
Visit the Federal Trade Commission website to learn more about the U.S. government's response to spyware and to file a complaint about specific spyware. 

Internet service providers ( ISPs )
Some ISPs include Virus Protection in their service packages. 

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)


 Constant vigilance is required for customers to maintain the security of their COMPUTERS.

Customers should:

• Be cognizant of spyware symptoms on their COMPUTERS.

• Practice sensible "Internet hygiene," including downloading software from only the most trusted websites.

• Run spyware detection and removal software regularly.

• Download the most current security patches regularly.

• Update anti-virus software regularly.

• Update browser ( Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera ) with the latest version.

Training & Security Check up:

Blizard Computer Service

607-725-6949 Phone & Text