In the last few years the threat posed by pest programs (including adware and spyware) has skyrocketed. Every computer that has web access needs anti-pest software.
Any computer that has a pest probably has more than one, as they tend to download each other. And any computer than has pests is most likely very slow! Infected computers also tend to have trouble browsing to certain web sites, the search function has been "taken over," and ads keep popping up on the screen.
Most users find it difficult, if not impossible, to remove malware from an infected system - far more difficult than many viruses. This is because pests and spyware need to stay on a PC for the author (often a criminal enterprise) to gather data and make money.
Top 3 Tips on Preventing Pest Infection
- NEVER click on a popup ad. If an "error message" has a title bar, click the "X" to close the window, or press ESC. Many popup ads show fake buttons that, if clicked, take you to another web site to download more pests. Many pests show fake "error" dialogs to trick users into clicking on them (ITS can show you the difference).
- Use an alternate browser. While Mozilla Firefox is not immune to security issues, it is a very good browser and does not suffer from the lax security of Internet Explorer (prior to Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP SP2, or on Windows Vista). Users with Windows 98, Me, or 2000 should definitely consider using Firefox as their primary web browser.
- Don't download free doodads. The Internet is awash with adware programs. Some offer to do innocuous little things like set your clock for you (Windows can do that automatically) or display the weather. But, in the license agreement, the user might agree to have ads displayed on their computer, or have their Internet activity monitored.
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