While you may not realize that you have installed spyware, there are some signs that it exists on your computer. If you notice any changes to your Web browser that you did not make such as extra toolbars or different homepage settings, as well as changes to your security settings and favorites list, you could have spyware running on your system. Other signs of a spyware infection include pop-up ads which aren’t related to a Web site you’re viewing; you may also see advertisements when you’re not browsing the Web. Hyperlinks which do not work (or take you somewhere you didn’t expect), a sluggish system, or your system taking longer to load the Windows desktop are all signs that your computer may be infected with spyware.
Anti-spyware software packages can rid your system of these unwanted and malicious programs. Anti-spyware software works by identifying any spyware installed on your system and removing it. Much like a firewall or anti-virus program, anti-spyware software is crucial to maintain optimal protection and security on your computer and network. Two popular and free anti spyware programs are Spybot and Ad-Aware.