Western University of Health Sciences Computing Resources Western University of Health Sciences
Computing Resources

Spyware

Spyware Defined

Spyware is software which installs itself when you are browsing the Internet and runs in the background, without your knowledge. It can then report information about you to a third party. Some forms of spyware can force unsolicited windows and Internet pages to open automatically. Usually this is just annoying, but, sometimes, this can render your computer unusable.


What You Can Do to Prevent and Remove Spyware

1. Keep Windows up to date.

Update Windows and apply all critical patches regularly. Microsoft has scheduled patch releases that occur on a monthly basis. Here is the link to Windows Updates.

You may also wish to have Windows apply critical patches automatically. University-owned computers are set to automatically update. Please click OK to apply Microsoft Updates when prompted. Look here for easy to follow instructions regarding Windows Automatic Updates.

2. Always run a Virus Scanner and always keep it up to date.

Having, using, and keeping a virus scanner up to date is an absolute must. Scanning occasionally is good, but make sure you are running “real time protection”. This feature scans any files which you download, including e-mail attachments. Ensure that your anti-virus software is set to automatically update itself at least once per week. Links to free and reasonably priced virus scanners are listed below:

Free Antivirus Tool:

Free Web-Based Antivirus Tools:

Commercial Antivirus Products:

3. Do NOT use file sharing or peer-to-peer services such as Kazaa, Gnutella, etc.

It is estimated that 25% of all files on these peer-to-peer networks are infected with viruses and/or contain malicious code, also known as malware.

4. Practice good Internet surfing and e-mail hygiene.

Do not browse to known malicious sites, e.g., pornography or “warez” sites, and do not open attachments or download software from sources which you do not know and trust.

5. Install the Google Toolbar.

The Google Toolbar blocks pop-ups, which often install spyware on your computer. You can download the Google Toolbar here:

6. Consider using at least two spyware removal tools.

You should scan for spyware using these tools at least once per week. The use of more than one spyware removal program is recommended because they provide “cross-coverage”, i.e., one tool, alone, does not usually remove all possible combinations of spyware. Installation and use of these products can cause the blocking or malfunction of desired sites, usually due to removal of cookies.

Free Tools:

Free to install, but updates require subscription:

7. Consider using browsers other than Internet Explorer 6.

Western University officially supports only Internet Explorer. The following free browsers seem less susceptible to spyware than Internet Explorer, but, may not function properly with some sites:  

8. Continually educate yourself.

More information regarding the topic of spyware can be found here:

The University will not be liable for any direct or indirect damages or loss of data as a result of implementation of any of the guidelines listed in this document nor does it receive support or financially profit from the use of any of the above listed software. Please direct student questions to Western University Technical Support at techsupport@westernu.edu or 909-469-5432, and a technical support specialist will be happy to assist you. Employees experiencing difficulties with pop-ups or Internet usage please contact Technical Support for service.