Check your viral load for bugs
Is your computer stuck in first gear? Does it cough and sputter and crash more often than usual? And, by chance, are you seeing an unusually high number of pop-up ads?
If so, it's possible your machine harbors one or more programs known collectively as spyware, nasty little intruders that combine the worst features of e-mail viruses and spam into one package.
Like spam, spyware co-opts bandwidth in an attempt to sell you something. And just like viruses, spyware can slow down your computer, alter its settings without your permission, monitor your every move and transmit personal information about you to snoops.
Spyware isn't new to the Internet, but it is becoming more prevalent. According to a December 2002 report from research firm GartnerG2, more than 20 million people now have spyware, also known as adware, lurking on their machines, and those numbers are rising rapidly.
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