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What you should know about spyware, adware and pop-ups

Spyware is software that performs certain behaviors, such as filling your screen with advertising pop-ups (such programs are known as adware), collecting or transmitting personal information (through keystroke loggers), or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without your consent. Spyware can find its way onto your computer through free software downloads, malicious Web sites, clicking on pop-up ads, file transfers over instant messaging, or opening infected e-mail attachments. The results of spyware include decreased browsing speeds, system crashes, and compromised personal security.

What you should do to protect yourself from spyware, adware and popups

Here's how to minimize your risk of unwittingly installing spyware and adware:

  • Install anti-spyware software. Comcast offers robust anti-spyware technology, powered by Total Defense, through the Comcast toolbar, at no additional cost. Get the toolbar now »
  • Be wary of "free" software. Download only from trusted sites. Also, consider buying the program you want instead of downloading the free version. Purchased downloads are less likely to have spyware tagging along than the freebies.
  • Read the fine print. Most legitimate software comes with an "end user licensing agreement" (EULA), a document that spells out what you're really getting into by installing the program. If something in it sounds fishy, best to click the "I Don't Agree" button and move on.
  • Think before opening file attachments. If you're not absolutely sure you can trust the source of the attachment, don't open it.
  • Punch out the pop-ups. You might get rid of a pop-up ad by clicking the "OK" box, but you also might be agreeing to something you don't want to agree to. Get rid of pop-ups by clicking the "X" in the corner.