Installed on your computer without your consent, spyware software monitors or controls your computer use. It may be used to send you pop-up ads, redirect your computer to websites, monitor your Internet surfing, or record your keystrokes, which, in turn, could lead to identity theft. According to officials at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, all computer users should get wise to the signs that spyware has been installed on their machines, and then take the appropriate steps to delete it.The clues that spyware is on a computer include:

  1. ...a barrage of pop-up ads
  2. ...a hijacked browser — that is, a browser that takes you to sites other than those you type into the address box
  3. ...a sudden or repeated change in your computer’s Internet home page
  4. ...new and unexpected toolbars
  5. ...new and unexpected icons on the system tray at the bottom of your computer screen
  6. ...keys that don’t work (for example, the “Tab” key that might not work when you try to move to the next field in a Web form)
  7. ...random error messages
  8. ...sluggish or downright slow performance when opening programs or saving files