As the number of spyware threats continues to increase exponentially, it becomes increasingly important to educate users about the threats and how to protect their computers.

Few understand the threats posed by spyware than the general public. Even with anti-virus software, protecting computers from spyware and adware is difficult for users to understand until they become infected.

Spyware sites can be hidden in seemingly innocent-looking e-mails, websites, instant messaging chats, and even in some cases claiming to be legitimate online auctions. They can look like any other website, but without the option to download or install anything on your computer.

Spyware is software designed to secretly track your behavior for marketing purposes or to steal your identity for fraudulent purposes. They can install themselves on your computer without your knowledge or consent. Most variants of spyware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent thanks to your web browser’s auto-completion feature.

Here are the five (5) most common ways that your computer can be infected by spyware:

1. Through downloadable software.

Have you ever downloaded a free program, music, game, or shareware from the Net? If you have and then experienced a sudden loss of computer performance, then you might have downloaded spyware. Recent reports have stated that prominent Internet security provider, McAfee, claims that as much as 90% of their spyware detection resources are directed towards identifying free downloads.

2. By visiting or installing a media codec from a multimedia file.

Have you ever loaded a multimedia file into your web browser simply by double-clicking on the file? Many experts claim that this is a major way spyware is implanted into computers. If you experience an unexplained system crash, then it is a sure sign that you have a spyware problem.

3. By Necessity.

Have you ever had to close down your lab computer for repair due to a sudden shortage of memory or disk space? Is your computer running slower than usual? These are all examples of cases where spyware or other types of malware have forced your computer to be shut down and restarted. In short, necessity has forced you to have your computer fixed.

4. Spyware May Not Be A Bad Word.

I have seen many people using the term spyware intentionally sneering at someone else’s computer or hard drive. They continue to give the vendor of the unwanted software credit for the problem and hope the problem goes away. I have even seen the term used in a positive way as some people have chosen to use it in words of praise. That is until they discover the harsh reality of the term.

5. No One Scans Their Hard Drive For Spyware.

For the best anti-spyware programs to work properly, they must be able to search their hard drive for any spyware that is already there and then quarantine them. The software cannot be able to delete those files once they are discovered.

If you have the revelation that your computer is infected with spyware, then you have to take the time to scan your computer’s hard drive. By doing so, you will be able to isolate the problem and then address the problem. No one can doubt that this is the exact reason why computers are suffering these days.

Luckily, there are software programs that can help you get rid of spyware. These are called “spyware blockers” because they help you prevent spyware from installing itself on your computer. They search your hard drive for any spyware and delete it. Once it is done, you are given the choice to either allow the spyware to run in your system or to remove it. Most people allow the spyware to run because of the lack of other viable options.

If you are lucky enough to have a perfect history and you do not have any spyware downloads saved on your computer, you will have to manually add the files that are spyware and then delete them. This can be very tedious and you should only try this if you are an expert computer user. It is estimated that about 80% of all computers have spyware downloads saved in them.

After you have deleted the spyware, you might want to do a brief scan of your computer for signs of the spyware. This will help you be able to detect more easily where the spyware is hiding. Once you are done removing the spyware, you will have to use the spyware blocker to prevent it from coming back.

For non-computer experts, there is hope for you as there are programs available for non-technical users that will help you get rid of the spyware. There are actually software programs available for free that will help you forcefully remove spyware and adware.