If you've ever had spyware on your computer you may well be familiar with the sort of messages you get – "warning, your computer is infected!", "Windows has detected spyware infection", and many others besides.

This obviously is immediately going to cause you great concern to say the least and for good reason. And that reason is that your computer may now be infected with some spyware.

How did this happen you ask yourself? Here's how …

-You may have browsed a malicious website that loaded an unwanted program onto your computer.

-You do not have your firewall set up, it is not set up correctly, or you may have fallen victim to a hacker.

-You may have used a file sharing network such as P2P and downloaded some malicious files from there.

-You could have a security hole in one of your software programs. That's why you often see security fixes being made available by many of the big software companies, Microsoft at the top of this list!

So what actually can happen if you get a spyware or other malware on your computer?

Firstly, they may attack your computer's registry, and then via the registry they create the pop-up messages as mentioned above. These fake messages are sometimes linked to a website which promotes false anti-viral or anti-spyware type of program. These programs simply infect your computer even more while at the same time you are asked to pay for it, to download it and resolve all your current spyware and viral problems. It is very clever if you think about it, but surely devious for sure.

In addition to this however, some spyware is capable of logging your keystrokes hence the name "spy" ware. These snooping programs can log sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information and more. That can obviously be pretty damaging.

Okay, so what can you do to prevent and stop spyware ?!

Apart from turning off your computer immediately and taking it straight to your local computer technician, sometimes something as simple as a system restore can fix the problem. But if the issue is more advanced, you may need to invest in a spyware removal program.

There are a few free versions available online, but you need to be careful before downloading shareware as it could just be another malicious program. Be sure to investigate any spyware removal programs before downloading and / or purchasing. After that, consider updating your prevention measures as it is easier to block spyware than it is to remove it.

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