What is spyware?

Spyware is a type of computer software that is installed on a personal computer to intercept or take partial control over the user's interaction with the computer, without the user's knowledge or consent. Such programs can collect various types of personal information, including Internet surfing habits, browsing history, and can also interfere with user control of the computer in other ways, such as installing additional software, redirecting Web browser activity, accessing websites blindly that will cause more harmful viruses, or diverting advertising revenue to a third party.

Is spyware dangerous?

Generally speaking, spyware is more of a nuisance than an actual threat with the majority of spyware just concerned with tracking your Web activities and directing advertising to your computer (sometimes appearing as annoying pop-up windows in front of or behind your main Web browser window). However, as mentioned above, some spyware can cause a computer to be infected with viruses or can take control of your system, sometimes rendering it almost unusable. There is also a risk of spyware using a keylogger to obtain sensitive data from detecting every pressed key on the keyboard.

How do I remove spyware from my computer?

Make sure your anti-spyware software is kept up-to-date. Run full computer scans regularly to ensure that spyware is detected and removed. University-owned devices have anti-spyware/virus software installed by default, and discounted security software is available to students, faculty and staff for their personal devices. If you suspect that your SMU-owned computer is infected with spyware, let the IT Help Desk know at 214-768-HELP (4357) or help@smu.edu so a consultant can scan your device and resolve any issues.