Spyware is normally installed on a user’s computer without their knowledge. It can remain hidden for a long time before the person notices that something isn’t quite right with their computer. There are some common signs that can be watched for to let the user know there is a problem.
New homepage setting – If a user notices that their homepage has been changed, it is likely that there is spyware installed in the background. Often, when the user tries to set it back to the original page, it will reset to the new one again.
New toolbar – A common symptom is having a new toolbar installed on the browser.
Unknown advertising popups – Spyware can cause unexpected popups to come onto the screen, even when the user is not searching on the internet. Often, the popups are difficult, if not impossible, to close.
Sluggish computer – Spyware can use massive amounts of resources, often slowing a computer right down. Sometimes a user may notice that tasks are taking two to three times as long as normal.
Unknown shortcuts – Desktop shortcut icons may appear that were not previously there, indicating that spyware is involved.
Error messages – Unknown error messages that keep popping up for something the user does not remember installing is often a clue to spyware.
Hard drive working overtime – Spyware can be working in the background, even when the user is not working on the computer. If they notice it making noise as though it is working for no reason, it can indicate that something is working behind the scenes.
New favorites – Spyware can save favorites that the user does not remember saving.
Firewall alerts – When alerts appear that an unknown program is trying to access the internet when the user is not, then it shows that something has already got onto the computer, and is now trying to get back through to the internet.
Although many of these problems can be symptoms of other issues, when two or more show up together, it is likely that spyware has infected the computer.