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Educating Your Kids About Spyware And The Steps To Prevent It From Happening
If you start to get tons of pop-up windows even when not connected to the net and your computer has slowed to a crawl, you might have spyware. You know you haven't downloaded anything lately and you have a great anti-virus program. Well, if the kids have been at the PC, there is a good chance that is how you got it. Spyware is software that can get into your machine while visiting not so safe web sites or through downloading programs from an unknown source. Most of the time you won't even know that they are invading you or apart of a program you are downloading. Kids are especially easy targets. The good news is that most of the spyware children tend to download is not malicious. Annoying yes, it will slow down your process speed and cause a lot of pop-up windows. It might even change your home page and redirect all your searches, but it won't crash you. If your kids frequent your machine often to play online games or chat, they could be accidentally infecting you.
Typical children's software downloads that can contain spyware are very simple to figure out. Children love free games they can download from the net. They assume that since they are free, it should not be a problem with Mom or Dad. Kids also love to get music, movies, and other software through file sharing. These files can be corrupted with viruses and/or spyware. A very good source of spyware is animated desktop characters. These are very entertaining and appealing to children. Most parents don't mind them being on the computer until they find out that they are not alone. Free screen savers are also popular with kids. Parents or children will download them thinking that SpongeBob will look great and now the computer has changed your home page and it takes two hours to open Microsoft word. Another popular download for kids is tool bars for the browser. For some reason, they can never get enough and as they come out with more buttons and gadgets, kids can't help but add them to the computer. Older kids are also known to download pop-up blockers that appear on the computer. They assume since they are advertising a feature that Mom and Dad like, it is okay. These actual ads are pop-ups and infect the computer.
Not every tool bar, game, or screen saver will contain spyware. If you teach children to only download from trusted sites they can get the things they love without infecting your computer. They need to ask prior to downloading a program if it looks okay or be capable of reading the license agreement, warning statements, and privacy statements provided. Many of the agreements are not easy to read and it is best to instruct children to ask before installing programs on their own. If your child is asking for a program that you are not sure about, type it into your browser and see what comes up. You could be directed to a trusted site for its download or learn that it is a hoax and is spyware. For those of you out there who hear "I didn't download anything, I swear", sometimes the kids have no clue they even did it. There are many popular kid sites out there that will just try to download software with out your children knowing.
The kids may see the warning that something wants do download and just click at random to make it go away. What usually happens is they click the wrong box and the software downloads. It is very easy to accidentally hit agree or the wrong X. If your children cannot be trusted to know the difference in what is a good site or what is not then you can install some parental controls that will keep them from being able to download things from the net. Talk with your kids about the net and what is there. Depending on the age of you children you will have to have a talk with them. You might have older children that you can teach where they are allowed to download from and where they can't or have to ask first. Add sites that your children are aloud to download from on your favorites. This way they know where is good. Establish rules for online usage from the moment they first start to use the Internet. This will not only keep your computer safe but your kids as well