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Anti-spyware software protects against a kind of malware called spyware.

The highest average dollar losses in a survey of identity theft victims were attributed to malware (viruses, worms, trojans), spyware, computer hacking and phishing (email fraud).

About spyware

Spyware is a type of program that monitors your computer activity, collects information about you without your knowledge and then provides that information to a third party.

Spyware can be benign (like collecting information in order to show you a targeted advertisement) or malicious (such as attempts to commit fraud). The most dangerous spyware is usually combined with a trojan or other malware and spread by criminals trying to obtain passwords, user IDs, account numbers and other sensitive data in order to commit fraud. Most spyware finds its way onto computers via the Internet. Web downloads and JavaScript files are popular ways to transmit spyware as they can be embedded in other programs and are self-executable, meaning they run without any assistance from you.

About anti-spyware software

Anti-spyware software works much like antivirus software:

  • It detects and removes spyware. Anti-spyware software detects and removes spyware from your computer using a library of spyware file definitions and cures.
  • It prevents new spyware infections. Anti-spyware software prevents spyware programs from collecting information on your computer and providing it to unknown parties.

How do I know if I have anti-spyware software?

Check the list of programs on your computer to verify if anti-spyware software is already installed. (Not sure what the software would be called? See the list below for some major vendors.)

Where do I get anti-spyware software protection?

Anti-spyware software is available online from antivirus vendors or from retailers such as Amazon.com, or offline at any electronics store. Some popular anti-spyware vendors include:

Is spyware more dangerous than malware such as viruses, worms and trojans?

Spyware collects data and shares it with outside parties without your knowledge. It’s made more dangerous when combined with malware and spread by cyber criminals. That’s why it’s important to have both antivirus and anti-spyware protection installed on your computer.

Can I combine antivirus and anti-spyware software?

Most antivirus software vendors offer protection from spyware within their products or as a separate purchase. Be sure to verify that anti-spyware protection is included, or purchase a separate anti-spyware software package.

How to protect your computer

  • Install anti-spyware software on your computer.
  • Keep your anti-spyware software license current.
  • Read software agreements to understand exactly what applications are being installed on your computer.
  • Download software from the Internet only from trusted sources.