2006 editors: Andrew and Tyler
2007 editors: Coley and Sumner

Blocking Spyware and Pop-Ups

On this page you will learn all about spyware, adware, pop-ups, and how to safely protect your computer from each of these threatening things.

Basics of MalWare

When you access the internet, information is displayed by your computer. Most of this information poses no threat to your computer and its security. However, there is a small percent of this data that can be very harmful to your security. Spyware is a sinister villain that is known for stealing info from your computer, such as passwords, account numbers, and it can even use your computer to orchestrate illegal activities. That's right your computer could be laundering a Colombian drug lord's money without you knowing it.

The best way to block spyware is Ad-Aware. The most common way spyware infiltrates you security is through pop-ups. Pop-ups are annoying adds that pop up on the screen while you are on the internet. Most people just close them using the 'X' button in the top right hand corner. This some times inadvertently activates the spyware. The correct way to close spyware is to right click the task windows at the bottom of the screen and then click Close.



No matter what web browser (which is what you use to look at the internet) you have, it will most likely have some basic safety features. The most popular web browser is Internet Explorer. I, however prefer, Mozilla Firefox. You can download it for free at the Mozilla website. There are several reasons why I use Mozilla over Explorer. The first, and main, one is because of how Firefox deals with ActiveX Components. ActiveX is program that Microsoft made that allows people to share information. This connects computers through the internet and some hackers will use this to get onto your computer and steal your information, install viruses, and install Spyware or Adware. To read a more specific description of ActiveX you can go here. Firefox doesn’t run ActiveX, so it’s much safer.

Dealing with MalWare and ActiveX

If you use Internet Explorer or Firefox, then there is a way to set the way your computer deals with ActiveX. To do this go to your internet window, click Tools, then Options. This window will have several tabs. The tab that deals with ActiveX is the Security tabs. Click the button Custom Level and this will open another window. At the bottom it says “Reset Custom Level.” This is where you can set your security to be low, medium-low, medium, or high. I would recommend high.There are also great spyware and malware blockers. Some great free ones are Ad-Aware, Pest Patrol, and Pop-Up Defender. Other great ones are Webroot Spy Sweeper, Spy Remover and Spy Killer. Also never click directly on a pop up. Never click the x either. Clicking on the x or on the pop up can allow the harmful spyware to inter your computer.

In Internet Explorer you can also set how your computer deals with cookies. In the Internet Options window go to the Privacy tab and you will see a range of settings and a detailed description of each. I would recommend using Medium or Medium-High. Don’t set it to block all cookies because some are good, such as the one that allows you to use email.

Dealing with Pop-ups

Both Internet Explorer and Mozilla have built in pop-up blockers. To access Internet Explorer’s, go to the Privacy tab of Internet Options. At the bottom you’ll see a square beside “Block pop-ups.” Make sure there is a check in the square. In Mozilla go to Tools, then Options. Then go to the Content page. Make sure there is a check in the square beside “Block Popup Windows.”

Be sure to become familiar with these settings. It could be the thing that protects your computer.