3. Preventing Adware/Spyware Infections

Some of the anti-adware/spyware removal packages mentioned in the previous section may offer protection against adware/spyware being installed in the first place although this may be in a non-free version of the program.

You can reduce the possibility of adware/spyware infections in Internet Explorer (IE) by raising the level of its security settings. In IE go to [Tools->Internet Options->Security] and set the security level for the Internet Zone to High. (If no slider is visible, click Default level to make it appear first.) Then set the security level for the Trusted Zone to Medium and add the sites you use and trust to this zone; you may need to do this quite often as many badly-designed sites will not work in the High security mode.

Another issue with Internet Explorer is its Related Links option on the Tools menu, the use of which can transmit your web browsing activities back to a company called Alexa. Some spyware removal software will offer to remove this facility.

Since many adware/spyware (and other security attacks) exploit specific weaknesses in Internet Explorer, another option is to switch to another web browser such as Opera or Netscape Mozilla, Firefox except for web sites that only behave properly using IE.

In general, try to avoid clicking on any enticing-looking buttons on web pages, for example the [X]in the corner of an irritating graphic may not be a real close-box, but a disguised button to install adware/spyware. (Pressing Alt/F4 is a safer way of closing the currently active window.) Avoid installing any software from unknown sources - even if the product performs a useful function, there may be a hidden cost if it also installs adware/spyware alongside itself.

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