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How To Identify A Spyware Infection  

1. Outrageous, Unexplained Phone Bills

Your phone bill includes expensive calls to 900 (International) numbers that you never made--probably at an outrageous per-minute rate. These are called Dialers and are very sneaky!

2. Your Searches are Hijacked

You enter a search term in Internet Explorer's address bar and press Enter to start the search. Instead of your usual search site, an unfamiliar site handles the search. Pop-up advertisements and programs try to install on sites like this. In addition, the search results are usually not relevant and contain only paid advertisements.

3. Your Anti-Spyware Software is Compromised

Your anti-spyware program stops working correctly. It may warn you that certain necessary support files are missing, but if you restore the files they go missing again. It may appear to launch normally and then spontaneously shut down, or it may simply crash whenever you try to run it. This signifies Spyware that is attacking your Anti-Spyware software.

4. New 'Favorites' Magically Appear

A new item appears in your Favorites list without your putting it there. No matter how many times you delete it, the item always reappears later.

5. Your PC Seems More Sluggish Than Usual

Your system runs noticeably slower than it did before. If you're a Windows 2000/XP user, launching the Task Manager and clicking the Processes tab reveals that an unfamiliar process is using nearly 100 percent of available CPU cycles.

6. Data Transferring For No Apparent Reason

At a time when you're not doing anything online, the send or receive lights on your dial-up or broadband modem blink just as wildly as when you're downloading a file or surfing the Web. Or the network/modem icon in your system tray flashes rapidly even when you're not using the connection.

7. Toolbars Appear That You Didn't Install

A search toolbar or other browser toolbar appears even though you didn't request or install it. Your attempts to remove it fail, or it comes back after removal.

8. Incessant Pop-Up Ads

You get pop-up advertisements when your browser is not running or when your system is not even connected to the Internet, or you get pop-up ads that address you by name.

9. Homepage Hijacker

When you start your browser, the home page has changed to something undesirable. You change it back manually, but before long you find that it has changed back again. Home Page hijackers can be pornographic in nature or redirect you to any site of their choosing.

10. Inconspicuous Spyware -- What's In Your PC?

The final sign is: Everything appears to be normal! The most devious spyware doesn't leave traces you'd notice, so scan your system anyway.

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